Guest post: What to do when your child is rejected from their first choice school – making the school appeal process easy

Samantha Hale, an Education Solicitor who works with parents and guides them through appeals at the Simpson Millar law firm, here describes the appeals process for parents who children do not get an offer at their first choice school.

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Samantha Hale

Samantha Hale

Each year approximately 5% of school starters will not be offered a place at their first choice primary or secondary school. Those pupils who do not immediately get offered their first choice do have the option to appeal.

This year approximately one in twenty children applying for a primary or secondary school placement will not receive a place at their first chosen school. With the exception of some Grammar Schools, a placement will not be given because of a limit on infant class sizes or the school has allocated all of its places.

If your child was not high enough in the admissions arrangements to be allocated a place, deciding whether or not to appeal the decision to an Independent Appeal Panel can lead to a restless period for both you and your child, particularly those who are looking at secondary school placements.

The appeal process can be very daunting, however educational specialist Simpson Millar have a lot of experience of guiding parents through this process and would encourage anyone to consider this course of action.

What’s The Process?

Once the pupil has received the letter informing that they have not received the placement:

  • The parent (appellant) should be given at least 20 ‘school days’ to lodge an appeal against the decision
  • The appeal form should be submitted, alongside reasons for making the appeal
  • At this time, it is worth seeking advice about what reasons to include in the appeal, as what the panel has to consider when making their decision will vary depending on the reason a placement wasn’t allocated

Once the appeal has been lodged, a date, time, and venue for a hearing will be scheduled.

  • The appellant will be notified, with at least ‘10 school days’ notice, of the date, time and venue of the hearing, unless they waive this notice
  • The appellant will also be informed of the date that any additional information used to support the case needs to be received by the panel
  • The hearing is held in front of an Independent Appeal Panel which consists of up to 5 people
  • The hearing should take place within 40 school days of the deadline for lodging the appeal
  • During the hearing, both the admission authority and the appellant will put their case forward
  • Written notification of the results of the hearing should be sent to the appellant no later than 5 ‘school days’ after the hearing

Should you appeal?

Last year we handled a very large volume of appeal cases for pupils of both primary and secondary school age. When a child does not get into the preferred school it often leaves that child’s parents feeling anxious and frustrated that a decision, made by a complete stranger, will have such a massive impact on the education their child will receive.

Every parent wants the best education for their child and that’s why we would encourage all parents whose children have not got into their first choice school to consider the appeal process.

At Simpson Millar we have a dedicated team to deal with this process and we would be happy to answer any questions from parents about their options.


For more information you can contact Samantha Hale at Simpson Millar at


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