Lawyers Raise Awareness Of Appeal Rights As Families Miss Top School Choice

One In Six Children Do Not Get First Choice Of Secondary School


Saffron Otter, Press Officer | 0114 276 4666

Specialist education lawyers at Irwin Mitchell raise awareness over the right for families to appeal after it is announced that one in six children did not get their first choice of secondary school, according to official admissions figures for England’s schools.

The Department for Education figures show that although 84.1% of parents get their first choice of secondary school, a substantial number of families still lose out, equating to 87,000 students missing out on their favourite school.

Secondary schools received the highest number of applications since 2008, totalling 548,006, and figures show that there are increasing pressures on high performing schools.

Out of all areas, Gateshead had the biggest fall in parents getting their first choice of secondary school, with 82.8%, down from 91.5% in 2015.

The statistics confirm that 3.5% of parents did not get any of their preferences for secondary school, and 3.1% missed out on all choices for primary school.

When parents do not get any of their choices, they will be allocated to another available place at a different school or offered a list of schools with empty places. In some cases, children may not have been offered any school placement due to an increasing demand for school places.

Local authorities say that a further 80,000 school places will be needed by 2024 due to increasing population.

Sarah Woosey, education specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said:

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“It is disappointing to see that figures have not improved since last year, with a significant number of families still not securing a place for their children at a chosen school. Sometimes parents have important reasons why their child needs to attend a particular school and losing out on a place can have a significant detrimental impact on families.

“It is imperative for families to know that these decisions can be appealed to an Independent Appeal Panel, and even when a school is technically full, places can still be awarded by that panel if the parents are able to present a strong enough case that their child/children will suffer if they are not awarded a place. Parents can also appeal where there is evidence that the school have allocated their spaces incorrectly or not followed their published admissions criteria.

“Parents can obtain further information on appealing and the procedures that should be followed from the School Admissions Appeal Code, which can be found on the Department for Education’s website. Importantly, these rights of appeal apply equally to academies as well as local authority maintained schools.

“Parents should be informed about their right to appeal when they receive their decision letter from the school or local authority. Appeals should be a parent friendly process but specialist legal advice can inevitably assist in ensuring that a strong case is presented and that appropriate points are made.

“It is incredibly worrying that some children are not allocated any school place. It is the duty of the child’s local authority to ensure that a school place is allocated and further legal challenges can be brought separately to the appeal process in situations where this does not happen.”
Sarah Woosey, Solicitor

Visit the Department of Education's website for further information on the appealing process.