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Primary school admission appeals

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school admission appeals update

In light of the current situation, there will be some changes to the school appeals process.

You should read all the guidance on this page before submitting your appeal. Alternatively, you can download the appeals guidance as a PDF. Appeals guidance and procedure for 2021–2022 (1.1MB pdf)

On this page:

Why hasn't my child been allocated a reception place at my preferred school?

If your child hasn't been allocated a place at your preferred school, it's because the school received more applications than there are places available at the school.

Where a school is oversubscribed, the admission authority for the school has to apply their published admission criteria to decide in which order the available places should be offered.

You’ll only be refused a place at your preferred school where the school is oversubscribed and it was not possible to allocate your child a place when the admission criteria were applied.

When allocating places, the school must take into account what the law says about the sizes of classes in Key Stage One. In most schools in the borough, if any additional child was admitted above the schools published admission number, the school would not be able to comply with the law regarding infant class sizes without making accommodating measures, such as employing an additional teacher.

What does the law say about primary school class sizes?

Primary school class sizes for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are subject to regulations that limit the school to admitting a maximum of 30 pupils per school teacher. Schools are unable to admit an additional pupil where it would breach this limit except in very limited exceptional circumstances.

How do primary school class sizes affect my appeal?

If the admission of an extra child would breach class size legislation it’s very difficult, even for an appeal panel, to allow an extra child to be admitted.

In such circumstances, an appeal panel can only uphold an appeal if at least one of the following strict conditions applies:

  • The decision was not one which a reasonable admission authority properly aware of its responsibilities, would make in the circumstances of the case.
  • The admission arrangements were not properly implemented, and the child would have been offered a place if they would have been.

This means, even if the panel considers the school could accommodate more pupils, they cannot legally make a decision to admit a child where it would breach the legislation.

What can I do if my child didn't get a place at my preferred primary school?

If your child hasn't been given a place at the school you wanted in the borough of Rochdale:

  1. Your child will automatically be added to the waiting list for the schools you applied to but didn't get a place for. If you applied for a school out of the borough, you'll need to contact the local authority in that area to be added to their waiting list. See how waiting lists work in Rochdale borough.
  2. You can consider appealing the decision. You can submit an appeal for any reason you may have.
  3. You can submit your appeal using the form on this page.

What's the deadline for school admission appeals?

The deadline for lodging your primary school admission appeal is midnight, Monday, 17 May 2021.

  • If you submit your appeal before the deadline, your appeal will be heard by Wednesday, 21 July 2021.
  • If you submit your appeal after the deadline, your appeal will be heard as soon as is practicable and you will receive 14 days’ notice of the date and time of your appeal.

Late applications: if you applied late, you must submit your appeal within 28 days of the date you were notified your application was unsuccessful.

How can I submit a school admission appeal?

The appeal form should only be used when appealing the decision to refuse admission to your preferred school in the borough of Rochdale. If you wish to appeal more than one decision you'll need to complete a separate form for each decision.

What you'll need to appeal:

  • Details about you and your child, including the name of the school you're appealing against.
  • Your reason for appealing.
  • If you'd like to provide any evidence to support your appeal, have it ready to upload to the form. Evidence can be anything you think supports your case, such as a doctor's note or a letter from a social worker.
School admission appeal form (opens in a new window)

What happens after I submit an appeal?

Once you've submitted the form:

  1. We'll arrange an appeal hearing and send you a letter telling you when and where your appeal hearing will take place. We'll give you at least 10 working days' notice.
  2. The hearing will take place at the specified time. You don't have to attend but if you do, you'll be able to elaborate and clarify any questions the appeals panel may have.
  3. We'll send you a letter telling you the result of your appeal within 5 working days of the hearing. We're not able to tell you over the phone. 

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can't appeal again unless you've a significant change in your circumstances, such as a change of address. If you want to make a complaint about our decision, you can lodge a complaint with the Education Funding Agency. Complain about your appeal

What happens at my appeal hearing?

There are 2 types of school appeal hearings. In most cases, you'd have an individual appeal hearing. When there are a large number of appeals for the same school, we may arrange a group appeal.

Your letter which tells you the date and time of your hearing will also tell you which type of hearing you're attending.

Individual appeal hearing procedure

  1. The chair of the appeal panel will introduce you to the other panel members, the clerk and the representative of the admission authority (either the local authority or the school's governing body) who are present in the room.
  2. The representative of the admission authority will present the case, explaining the procedure followed and the reason why it hasn't been possible to offer your child a place at the school of your preference.
  3. You may then ask questions about why your child wasn't offered a place at your preferred school and the appeal panel members may also ask questions. 
  4. You'll be asked to present your case to the appeals panel.
  5. The representative of the admission authority may ask you questions and the appeal panel members may also ask you questions about your case.
  6. The representative of the admission authority will sum up their case.
  7. You will sum up your case.
  8. You and the admission authority representative will then be asked to leave so the appeal panel can discuss your case and reach a decision whether to uphold or reject the appeal.

Group appeal hearing procedure

  1. You'll be welcomed to the hearing and asked to sign in.
  2. Once the parents, representatives and the clerk have arrived, the panel will be brought in and the procedure will be explained.
  3. The representative of the admission authority will present the case, explaining the procedure followed and the reason why it hasn't been possible to offer a place at the school of your preference.
  4. The meeting will then be open to questions. This is your chance to ask any questions you may have about what the admission authority representative has said.
  5. The panel will then have the opportunity to ask questions. 
  6. Following the questions the panel will move to a separate room to begin the individual appeal hearings.
  7. The clerk and the representative from the admission authority will be present at your individual appeal hearing.
  8. The panel won't make any decisions until they've heard the final individual appeal.

Who makes up an appeal panel?

An appeal panel usually consists of 3 trained volunteers who are all completely independent of the appellant, the admission authority and the school.

Appeals panels have to consist of at least one person who has no experience providing education in any school and one person with experience in education. For voluntary aided schools, the panel may also include a diocesan representative.

A clerk who's legally trained will advise the panel and ensure the correct procedure is followed. The clerk will take notes of the relevant points discussed at the hearings and they'll remain with the panel when they make their decision so they can record the reasons why.

Only the members of the appeal panel make the decision on whether to allow your appeal or not. The clerk and representative of the admission authority aren't involved in the decision making.