School place appeals process


If you have applied for a school place for your child and you have been refused you can submit an appeal.  Appeals are arranged by the Education Appeals Team.  Appeals are heard by an independent panel.

If you have not yet applied for a school place please visit the School Admissions pages to find out how to apply.

Submit an appeal

About appeals

If you are not happy with the decision to refuse your child a place at a school you can submit an appeal.  The process must follow the Appeals Code 2012.  There are two types of appeal:

Standard appeals

  • Where the Panel can take into account your personal circumstances.

Appeals for infant classes of 30

  • Where the Panel cannot take into account your personal circumstances.
  • Infant classes must not contain more than 30 pupils with a single school teacher. There are only very limited circumstances in which a child could join an infant class as an ‘excepted pupil’.  If your outcome letter tells you that your child has been refused because the infant class size has been reached you can still appeal but the Panel’s task is only to review the decision.  Most infant class appeals are unsuccessful because of this.
  • For more information please see the infant class size appeals page.

Things to consider

  • The appeal process can take some time which can prolong the period of uncertainty for you and your child. It is important to be realistic about your reasons for appealing and the chances of being successful, particularly for infant class appeals.
  • You should consider accepting any offer of a school place you receive so that your child has a place if your appeal is unsuccessful. Accepting an offer will not affect your appeal.
  • It will be helpful for you to understand the school’s admission arrangements which you can find on the school’s website or on request from the School Admissions Team.

Before the appeal hearing

  • When you have submitted your appeal you will receive an acknowledgement email from the Education Appeals Team.
  • Once an appeal has been arranged you will receive a Notice of Appeal by email (or post if requested) at least 10 school days before the hearing. This will tell you the date and time of your appeal and the names of the Panel Members and Clerk.  You will also be sent a copy of the information submitted by the school.
  • If you have any further written information you would like to be considered by the Panel you should send this to the Clerk at least three working days before the hearing. The Panel will consider whether to allow additional written information to be presented at the hearing. 

Who will attend the appeal hearing

  • The Independent Appeals Clerk: They make the appeal arrangements. They will explain the process and answer any questions you have.
  • The Independent Panel: There will be three people on the Panel. They will be independent people that have been trained in hearing appeals.  They will be experienced in education or lay people. 
  • The Presenting Officer: There will be someone presenting the school’s case and there may be someone else from the school who will be there to help answer questions.
  • The Appellant (you): You do not have to attend the hearing but we recommend that you do. If you do not attend, the Panel will consider your appeal based on the written information you have provided.  The school’s case will be made in person at the hearing and the Panel will make a decision based on the information available.  A friend, family-member or adviser can join you or represent you, as long as there is no conflict of interest.  You can request a translator or signer.  Legal representation should not be necessary but you can arrange this if you wish, at your own cost.  You need to let the Clerk know if you will have legal representation.  Your child can attend if you wish, but this is not necessary.

What happens at a standard appeal hearing

  • The Chairman of the Panel will guide you through the process.
  • The hearing will be as informal as possible and will be a structured discussion.
  • The person presenting the school’s case will explain why your child was refused.
  • The Panel and you will be able to ask questions about the school’s information.
  • The Panel will consider whether the school has made its case. If so, the appeal will continue to the next stage.
  • You will then be able to explain your reasons for wanting a place at the school.
  • The Panel and school representative will be able to ask questions if necessary.
  • The Chairman will make sure you and the school have provided all of the information you and they would like to.
  • The Panel could decide to adjourn a hearing if extra time is needed for all the parties to consider additional written information.
  • The school representative/s and you can then leave the meeting. The Panel makes its decision alone.  The Clerk remains with the Panel to record the decision. 

Grouped (multiple) hearings

  • If there is more than one appeal relating to the same year group at the school the Panel will usually hear appeals in groups. When appeals are grouped, the school’s case is usually heard by all of the parents/carers at the beginning of the hearing. No personal information will be discussed when the Panel hears the information about the school.    The parent’s/carer’s cases will then be heard individually without the other parents/carers there.  You will need to allow extra time for this process.  

Decision-making (standard appeals)

  • The Panel will first decide if the school’s Admission Arrangements and the School Admission Code were properly followed.  If not, your appeal must be upheld.
  • Next, the Panel will consider your reasons and if they outweigh the school’s reasons your appeal will be upheld.

Decision-making (Infant Class Size)

  • If your application was refused due to ‘infant class size’, the Panel will decide if the school’s Admission Arrangements and the School Admission Code were properly followed and whether it was reasonable for the admitting authority to refuse the place at the time it considered the application.

After the appeal

  • The Panel’s written decision will usually be sent to you within five working days.
  • Your letter will tell you how you can make a complaint about maladministration.

Appeals during coronavirus

Information relating to appeals submitted from 21 July 2020: 

The Department for Education has published temporary regulations and non-statutory guidance.  The guidance sets out how appeals for school places should take place during 2020 to ensure the safety of all concerned.  It also makes sure everyone continues to receive a fair appeal hearing during the current Coronavirus Pandemic.  

Following the guidelines the Cornwall School Appeals Panel will hear all appeals by telephone meeting.

  • You will receive an acknowledgement email from Cornwall School Appeals Panel advising you of the process.  If you feel you have any information you would like to be considered by the panel please send this by email to educationappeals@cornwall.gov.uk as soon as possible. This may be information you originally wanted to put forward to the panel in person. Please include your child’s name and the name of the school which your appeal relates to.
  • You will be sent an email explaining how we will transfer paperwork to you securely and how you can access it.  Step by Step instructions on how to access your papers will be provided.  You will then receive an email (Notice of Hearing) advising you of the date and time of your appeal hearing.  You will receive this email 14 calendar days in advance of the hearing.  You will be asked to provide a telephone contact number which the clerk will use to call you at the time of your hearing.  If you do not wish to attend via telephone conference your appeal can be heard on a written basis.  If this is the case, we encourage you to provide any additional information which you may not have submitted in your original appeal.
  • The hearing and decision making process remains the same as it would have been should appeals have been heard in a face to face meeting. The Panel Chairman will make introductions and explain the process.  They will also indicate when the school, yourself and other panel members are able to speak and ask questions.  After all appeals for the year group have been heard, the Panel will make its decisions in private, with the Clerk to record the decision.  The decision will be communicated to you and schools in writing no later than 7 calendar days after the hearing.
  • The changes to the process do not affect your rights. If, after you have received your decision letter, you feel there has been any maladministration, you can contact either:
    • the ESFA in respect of academy schools or
    • the Local Government Ombudsman in respect of Local Authority schools to review the appeals process.
      These bodies review the process of the appeal.  They do not look to make a further decision on the outcome of an appeal.  

Appeals timetable

Appeals are arranged in accordance with the School Appeals Code.  It states that admission authorities must set a timetable for organising and hearing appeals that:

  • includes a deadline for lodging appeals which allows the person making the appeal at least 20 school days.  The 20 school days is from the date of notification that their application was unsuccessful;
  • ensures that the person making the appeal receives at least 10 school days' notice of their appeal hearing;
  • includes reasonable deadlines for:
    • the person appealing to submit additional evidence
    • admission authorities to submit their evidence
    • the clerk to send appeal papers to the panel and parties
  • ensures that decision letters are sent within five school days of the hearing wherever possible.

Admission authorities must ensure that appeals submitted by the deadlines are heard:

  • within 40 school days of the deadline for lodging appeals in the normal admission round;
  • where possible within 40 school days from the deadline for lodging appeals for late applications or within 30 school days;
  • within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged for in-year applications.

Any appeals submitted after the appropriate deadline must still be heard.

The timetable for appeals can be found in the Co-ordinated Schemes.  To see the Schemes use the 'Applying for a school place' link on the School Admissions pages for the relevant year. 

Further appeals

It is not possible to appeal again during the same academic year unless:

the school will accept another application because of a significant material change in the circumstances of the:

  • school
  • parent/carer or
  • child

and then has to refuse the application again.

Where to get help

Contact the Education Appeals Team using the contact details on this page:

  • for advice and support with the appeal process or
  • to request a paper appeal form

For further advice and support please refer to ACEDFE or contact the Family Information Service on 0800 587 8191 or at fis@cornwall.gov.uk.

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