Advice for anxious parents who miss out on their child’s first choice primary school place

Anxious parents waiting to hear if their three and four year olds have secured a place at their preferred primary school are being given advice on steps to take if they don’t get their first choice.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 7:35 pm

With national offer day for primary school places fast approaching (Friday 16 April), national law firm Stephensons is advising parents who are unhappy with their allocated place that they may be able to appeal.

Mike Pemberton, partner at Stephensons, specialises in education law.

He said: “When you consider that the initial allocation is going to have an effect on the next seven years of your child’s life as they develop through Key Stage 1 and 2, it is not surprising that national offer day can be stressful. The main thing though, is don’t panic.

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Children's PE bags hang on coat hooks (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

"Parents’ starting point should be to firstly look closely at the school your child has been given a place for – there may be more merits in that option than you first realise.”

Below is his nine-step plan for those who haven’t got their first choice.

Find out who to appeal to – the type of school will determine who will consider your appeal, the academy trust, local authorities or governing body.

Check the admissions policy of the school – refer to the school or local authority website.

Find out the published admission number of the school.

Look at the school’s oversubscription policy - has it been applied correctly?

Check the School Admissions code of Practice 2014, School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 and relevant parts of the School’s Standards and Framework Act 1998.

Gather evidence supporting any medical, social or other exceptional circumstances you wish to rely upon.

An appeal must be made in writing so make sure you do this in good time. Appealing out of this time, this may cause delays and in-time appeals may be considered first and result in more places. Allow time to seek advice on grounds to appeal if you need assistance.

Consider whether you will need assistance or representation at the appeal hearing. As a parent you’re entitled to be represented at an appeal by a friend or lawyer. If you decide on legal representation seek help as soon as possible.

Once an appeal is lodged it must be heard within 40 school days of the appeals deadline.