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School admissions - the appeal hearing

This advice applies to Wales

This page tells you what happens if you appeal against a refusal of a school place.

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

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

Appealing against the refusal of a school place

If you decide to appeal against the refusal of a school place, there are other actions you may want to take at the same time. You should seek specialist advice if you wish to appeal.

The appeal hearing

The Welsh Government's School Admission Appeals Code gives the 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 will be told the date of the appeal hearing at least 14 days (ten working days) before the hearing, unless you have agreed to have a shorter notice period.

If the appeal is about sixth form admission, and both the young person and their parents have appealed, the appeals must be heard together.

You must be allowed to:

  • send in, before the hearing, any documents, information or evidence you want the appeal panel to see
  • attend the hearing
  • speak and explain, or add to what you said in your written appeal
  • be accompanied by, or represented by, a friend, adviser, legal representative, interpreter or signer.

You should tell the clerk to the appeal in advance if anyone else will be attending with you, or if you need interpretation or signing to be arranged.

Appeals, except those against decisions on the grounds of infant class size, have two stages.

Stage one - the factual stage

At stage one the appeal panel decides:

  • whether the oversubscription criteria were correctly used, and
  • "whether the admission would be prejudicial to efficient education or efficient use of resources", this means whether offering your child a place would disadvantage the other pupils due to lack of space or resources.
  • More about oversubscription criteria

If the panel decides that the school did not have a good reason for refusing you a place, you have won your case and this is the end of the hearing.

If the panel decides that the school had a good reason for refusing you a place, then the second stage of the appeal will begin.

Stage two - the balancing stage

At stage two:

  • you must explain to the panel why you are appealing against the decision and why you believe this school would be the best for your child. You must also explain what special reasons there are why your child should have a place. Remember by this stage, the panel has already decided that there was a good reason for turning you down.
  • the panel then looks at both sides of the case and they need to decide whether the benefits for your child being given a place at the school outweigh the disadvantages to the school and the other children from allowing an extra pupil to be admitted.

Infant class size appeals

Infant classes may not have more than 30 pupils except in very limited circumstances. In an appeal when admission was refused because of infant class size, the appeal can only be allowed if at least one of the following apply:

  • your child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly drawn up as required by the law
  • the decision was not one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case
  • your child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented.

The appeal decision

You will be sent the appeal panel's decision in writing, including the reasons for the decision.

If you win the appeal, your child must be offered a place at the school.

If you lose your appeal you can:

  • ask the school to put your child on their waiting list. Places sometimes become available after the start of the school year.
  • make a fresh application for a place at the same school if there has been a change of circumstances
  • contact the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) to discuss a possible complaint. You should contact the PSOW as soon as possible if you may want to complain.
  • School admissions and appeals - making a complaint

Next steps

Other useful information

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW)

Complaints Advice Team

Tel: 0300 790 0203

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