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Refused a school place - what to do

This advice applies to Wales

This page tells you what actions you can take if your application for a school place is refused.

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If you are unhappy with the decision to refuse a school place, you:

  • can reconsider your choice of school
  • can ask to be put on the waiting list
  • can appeal against the decision
  • may be able to make a new application to the same school if your circumstances have changed since the time the original application was made
  • can complain about how the application was dealt with.

If your application is refused

If your application is refused the letter telling you the decision must set out the reasons for the decision. It must include:

  • number of applications received
  • number of places available
  • oversubscription criteria applied
  • that there is a right of appeal against the decision, how to appeal, and the deadline for appealing.

What to do if you are unhappy with the decision

Reconsider your choice of school

When you have seen the reasons for the refusal, you may wish to reconsider your choice of school.

For example, a sixth form place was refused because the school is allowed to select pupils on the basis of ability. If the decision not to allow a place was based on reliable school reports and perhaps selection tests, you may decide that your first choice of school was inappropriate.

If you decide to apply to another school, you may still want to complain about how the application was dealt with (see below).

Ask to be put on the waiting list

If a school has more applicants than places available, it must have a waiting list. You can ask to have your child's name put on the list.

Children who have not been offered a place will remain on the waiting list until 30 September. If places become available while the waiting list is in operation, they must be offered to children already on the waiting list.  The order of priority for the offer should be in line with the oversubscription criteria for the school. You should be told where your child is placed on the waiting list.

Placing a child’s name on a waiting list does not affect your right to appeal against an unsuccessful application. You may also want to complain about how the application was dealt with, and/or make a new application to the same school (see below).

Appeal against the decision

The letter telling you of the decision to refuse a place, should give information about how to appeal and the deadline for appealing. Parents can appeal against decisions to refuse admission, and, in the case of sixth form admissions, the young person themselves can appeal separately, or jointly with their parents.

The Welsh Government's School Admission Appeals Code gives rules and guidance about the appeals process.

  • The School Admission Appeals Code is available on the Welsh Government website at www.wales.gov.uk.

You should keep a copy of your appeal and make sure it arrives before the deadline.

The Code says that if your appeal is late because of difficult circumstances or because you did not understand what was needed, the admission authorities must not unreasonably refuse to accept the late appeal.

You should seek specialist advice if you wish to appeal.

If you appeal, you may also want to ask to have your child's name put onto the waiting list. You may also want to complain about how the application was dealt with and/or make a new application to the same school.

Make a new application to the same school

If your circumstances have changed since the time the original application was made, you may be able to make a new application to the same school. For example, if you have moved house, or there are new health conditions this may mean you are more likely to meet the 'oversubscription criteria'. If you want to make a new application, you should contact the admissions authority.

If you make a new application, you may also want to ask to have your child's name put onto the waiting list and/or appeal. You may also want to make a complaint.

Make a Complaint

You can complain about the schools admission process to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW). You can make a compliant as well as taking any of the other actions mentioned above. You should contact the PSOW as soon as possible if you may want to complain.

Next Steps

Other useful information

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW)

Complaints Advice Team

Tel: 0300 790 0203

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