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You have a legal right to appeal against a decision not to offer your child a place at any or all of the schools that you’ve applied to. You can appeal for a place at your preferred school even though your child may have a place somewhere else.

The admissions authority for the school you’re applying to must explain why your child hasn’t been offered a place at that school. They must also explain how you can appeal against this decision.

Your appeal will be heard by a panel which is independent of the school and the admissions authority whose decision you’re appealing against. You’ve the right to attend the hearing to explain your case to the independent appeal panel.

There are strict rules around the appointment of the appeal panel members to ensure their impartiality and independence. The panel’s decision has to be accepted by the admissions authority and the school.

The deadline to lodge an appeal is 20 school days from the offer date. Appeals for schools will be heard during June and or July.


The law says that there can’t be more than 30 pupils in an infant class. If your child has been refused a place an appeal will only be successful in very limited circumstances.

The appeal panel must consider whether:

  • The child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had not been contrary to mandatory provisions in the School Admissions Code and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (or, the admission arrangements are found to be unlawful)

  • The child would have been offered a place if the admissions arrangements had been followed properly

  • The decision to refuse admission was not one which a ‘reasonable’ admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case

So the panel can judge whether an admissions authority has acted unreasonably, they’ll have to be satisfied that the decision not to admit the child was ‘perverse in the light of the admission arrangements’ – the decision taken was so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person could ever have reached it.


When considering an appeal for any other year group, panels follow a two stage process in reaching decisions.

  • A factual stage – this considers whether the school’s published admission arrangements were correctly applied in the individuals case, and decides whether harm (or prejudice) would arise to the efficient provision of education and/or the efficient use of resources in the school if the child was admitted.

  • A balancing stage – the panel can use its discretion here, balancing between the degree of prejudice to the school (or harm) and the weight of the parent’s case, before coming to a decision.