Admission appeal - Community or voluntary controlled school

Make sure you read the appeal procedure before you begin making an appeal.

Appeal timetable

School admission appeal timetable hearings
Phase Offers made Deadline for lodging an appeal Appeal hearings
Secondary transfer (entry to Year 7 in September 2020) Monday 2 March 2020 Monday 30 March 2020 May and June 2020
Primary (entry to a reception class in September 2020) Thursday 16 April 2020 Thursday 14 May 2020 June and July 2020

Appeals submitted after the deadline will be heard within 40 school days of the appeal being lodged.

In-year admission appeals (for people applying for school places in the middle of a school year) will be heard within 30 school days of your appeal being lodged.

Sixth-form appeals will be heard within 30 school days of your appeal being lodged or, if the offer of a place would have depended upon exam results, 30 school days after those results are received.

Appeal procedure

An appeal clerk independent of the council will arrange for your appeal to be heard. This is likely to be together with a number of other appeals. The clerk will write to tell you the date, time and venue well before your appeal hearing.

You'll also receive further information about the appeal process and how the panel will reach its decision in respect of your appeal.

Read the following guidance by selecting the relevant topic:

  • Secondary / primary transfer appeals
    Year Secondary Primary
    2019 53 requests - 3 upheld 75 requests - 2 upheld
    2018 94 requests - 3 upheld 88 requests - 0 upheld
    2017 95 requests - 2 upheld 152 requests - 7 upheld
    In-year appeals
    Year Secondary Primary
    2019 47 requests - 6 upheld 101 requests - 5 upheld
    2018 31 requests - 1 upheld 88 requests - 1 upheld
    2017 24 requests - 3 upheld 89 requests - 4 upheld
  • Appeal hearings are usually held in the Town Hall in Woolwich, which has wheelchair access. However, the hearing may sometimes be at another suitable local venue.

    The clerk will invite you to attend the hearing in person. You may bring along a friend or adviser whose support you value.

    If English isn't your first language and you would like an interpreter to help you at the appeal, this can be arranged by the clerk but you'll need to ask in advance of the hearing. Also, if you have a hearing impairment it may be possible for the clerk to arrange for a sign language interpreter to accompany you but again you'll need to ask in advance.

  • You may ask a representative to put forward your case if you wish, as long as the panel agrees.

    The representative can't be someone from the school you're appealing for as this could lead to a conflict of interest.

    You'll seldom need legal representation, but if you do wish to be legally represented at the hearing, you'll need to let the clerk know before the hearing.

    If you're unable to attend the hearing, you can ask a friend or relative to represent you, or let your written statement be considered on its own.

  • You'll receive a copy of the appeal case papers outlining the Royal Borough's reasons for not being able to offer your child a place at your preferred school. We recommend that you keep these papers in a safe place - you'll need to bring them with you to the appeal hearing.

    If necessary, you may submit additional information any time up to your appeal hearing, but if you provide new information too close to the hearing date, we may need to postpone the hearing so that all parties have the opportunity to consider it.

  • The appeal panel is independent of the council and is made up from three people from the following categories:

    • at least one lay member - this is someone without personal experience in the management of any school or the provision of education in any school (excluding experience as a school governor or in another voluntary capacity)
    • at least one person with experience in education - this is someone familiar with educational conditions in the local area or who is a parent or carer of a registered pupil at a school.

    Members of the panel will not:

    • have any direct connection with the school
    • be employed by the council in a capacity connected with education.

    All panel members will be specially trained. The chair will be a member with experience of chairing appeals.

    Other people attending the appeal

    In addition to the three panel members, there will be:

    • an officer from the Royal Borough of Greenwich (sometimes accompanied by a colleague)
    • the clerk who is there to take notes and advise on law and procedure.

    The headteacher of the school that you're appealing about may also attend - solely to answer questions put to them about the school.

  • Your appeal hearing will be held in private. It will be as informal as possible and the clerk and panel will do everything to put you at ease. However, as admission appeals perform a judicial function, there will be procedures to follow.

    After the welcome and introductions, the hearing will follow in this order:

    1. the case for the local authority as the admission authority
    2. questioning by you, as the appellant, and the panel
    3. your case for appeal
    4. questioning by the admission authority and the panel
    5. summing up by the admission authority
    6. your summing up.
  • When presenting your case you can:

    • simply refer to your written appeal (which will be in front of each panel member with any supporting documents you have submitted)
    • expand on your written statement and give new reasons if you wish.

    The chair will encourage you to say everything you can think of that may help your case. If you have a friend or representative with you they may speak for you or add to your argument.

    When summing up, use the opportunity to emphasise points made earlier.

    As members of the panel can ask questions at any time of either party, you may find it helpful to prepare your case beforehand so that you can refer to your notes on the key points during the hearing.

  • At the end of the hearing, and before the decision is reached, everyone except the three panel members and clerk will leave. The decision will be made in private, by the three panel members. The clerk will remain to advise them on procedure and the law if required.

    If there are several appeals for the same school, there will be no decision until the panel has heard all appeals for that school. However, even if there are a number of appeals being heard one after the other, each one will be considered on its own merits.

    The independent appeal panel's decision is binding on the council and the school.

    Factors the panel must consider

    When considering your appeal, the panel must take into account:

    • your preference and the reasons for it
    • the local authority's published arrangements for admission (a copy of this will be available at the hearing).

    The local authority's representative will have tried to demonstrate that if your child is admitted both of the following will happen:

    • the admission limit will be exceeded
    • the quality of education on offer will be reduced as a result.
  • The admission appeal panel will reach a decision (except for infant class size appeals) by observing the following two stage process:

    First stage

    In examining the decision to refuse admission, the panel may only uphold your appeal if it finds one of the following:

    • the admission arrangements don't comply with the law or have been improperly implemented - and your child wasn't offered a place because of this
    • admitting an additional child wouldn't 'prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources'. This means it wouldn't result in a negative impact on the quality of the education provided or not enough education resources (such as IT resources, dining areas, seats on buses) to go round.

    If the panel isn't satisfied that the local authority has successfully demonstrated its case at the first stage, your appeal will be allowed without further consideration.

    If panel members are satisfied that the local authority has made its case at the first stage, they will go on to consider the points you raised in your appeal and 'balance' them against the prejudice that would arise if an additional child were admitted to the year group.

    Second stage

    If the panel considers that you have compelling reasons for your child to attend the school in question, which outweigh the prejudice arguments presented by the local authority, your appeal will be upheld. This will require the school to take more pupils than was planned.

  • An infant class (Reception, Years 1 and 2) has a limit of 30 pupils per school teacher. Additional children may be admitted under limited exceptional circumstances. These children will remain an 'excepted pupil' for the time they are in an infant class or until the class numbers fall back to the current infant class size limit.

    An excepted child would have been admitted because:

    • they have a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan (EHCP) and were admitted to the school outside the normal admissions round
    • they moved into the area outside the normal admissions round, and had no other available school within reasonable distance
    • after initial allocation of places on the local offer date it was found that there was an error in implementing the admission arrangements and a place should have been offered
    • they're a looked after or previously looked after child admitted outside the normal admissions round
    • they have gained a place following a successful appeal
    • they have special education needs and are registered pupils at a school that isn't a special school, but are normally educated in a special educational needs unit attached to that school. They also attend an infant class in the school (not in the special educational needs unit), where this has been deemed as beneficial to the child
    • they're a child of UK service personnel admitted outside the normal admissions round
    • they have a twin or sibling from a multiple birth who was admitted otherwise than as an excepted pupil.

    Appeal panels reach their decisions in respect of infant class size admission appeals by following a two stage process:

    First stage

    In examining the decision to refuse admission, the panel may only uphold your appeal if it finds one of the following:

    • admitting an additional child wouldn't breach the infant class size limit
    • the arrangements don't comply with the law or weren't properly implemented - and your child would have been offered a place otherwise
    • the child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been correctly and impartially applied
    • the decision to refuse admission wasn't one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of your case.

    If the panel isn't satisfied that the local authority has successfully demonstrated its case at the first stage, your appeal will be allowed without further consideration.

    If panel members are satisfied that the local authority has made its case at the first stage, or where there are multiple appeals, they will go on to the second stage.

    Second stage

    The panel will compare each appellant's case for their child to be admitted and decide which, if any, to uphold.

  • The clerk will send you a letter informing you of the outcome of your appeal, and the reason for the decision, as soon as possible. This will normally be within five working days from the date of your appeal hearing, unless there are multiple appeals for the school.

    If your appeal is successful, your child will be admitted to your preference school.

    If your appeal is unsuccessful, your child should attend one of the alternatives offered by the Royal Borough of Greenwich or, if you prefer, another school you've expressed a preference for if a place is available.

    You also have the right to educate your child at home, although you'll need to satisfy the council that a suitable education is being provided.

  • You can complain about the appeal process, but not about the decision itself.

    Your complaint must be about the failure to follow correct procedures or a failure to act independently or fairly.

    You should make your complaint to The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

    If you're dissatisfied with the decision and consider that the way in which the local authority's admissions arrangements operate is unreasonable or that the panel was wrongly constituted, then you may send a written complaint to the Secretary of State.

    The decision of an appeal panel can only be overturned by the courts where either the appellant or admission authority is successful in applying for Judicial Review of that decision.

How to appeal

Use our school admission appeal form to make an appeal. On the form, you'll need to tell us the reasons you are appealing for a place at the school. You can also submit supporting evidence. Please prepare your reasons and evidence before starting the form.

It would help you to consider the school's admission arrangements when you give your reasons.;

Complete the school admission appeal form

Help with preparing your appeal

Coram Children's Legal Centre may be able to help you prepare your appeal.

If you have difficulty getting online to complete the appeal form, you can request a copy from the School Admissions team - email school-admissions@royalgreenwich.gov.uk.