How to appeal your child’s secondary school place - The 11 Plus Journey

The 11 Plus Journey


How to appeal your child’s secondary school place

This is a brief overview of how to lodge an appeal for your child’s secondary school place. 

Watch this excellent video by the founder of Equality Tuition and independent panellist Sheena Chan here. She gives valuable advice on this subject.

By the end of this article, you will be able to do the following. 
1. Understand the basics of lodging an appeal 
2. Find out where to lodge an appeal
3. Communicate your reasons for appealing
3. Provide evidence to support your argument
4. Know that you have explored the appeals process.

If you are not happy with the school allocated to your child on March 1st, National Offer Day and you feel that you have grounds to appeal, do this as soon as possible. The deadlines for appeal may differ from one local authority to another. Check the dates by which you must send in your application. This should be listed on your local council’s admissions website page. Lodge an appeal as soon as possible so that the appeal panel has enough time to review the details. The appeals form can be obtained through your local council. Please refer to the link below to find out about your local authority’s admissions department.

Panels and how they are made up will differ depending on your local authority. Panels are made up of a mix of independent panel members, community members and education professionals.

You should have strong grounds for appeal in order to make a strong case to the appeal panel. Make sure you work on your argument. Structure the appeal in an organised and coherent way. 

Following are a few good grounds for appeal. Yours may not be listed here. Please approach a professional for guidance, if you need to do so.

  1. Mitigating or extenuating circumstances that have affected the child’s performance in a test (for selective schools). This explains the highly unusual circumstances that detail why your child didn’t perform better on the admissions test. 
  2. Social welfare issues or medical / health issues. Medical letter of some sort that lays down explicitly why one school would be most appropriate to help alleviate your child’s medical needs. Social worker proof can provide evidence if there is a social welfare issue to argue.
  3. Distance: This may involve cases to do with oversubscription criteria and/or the distance from home that the school policy has. Read the school admissions policy and code carefully to understand this and ensure your appeal falls within this. Check the catchment rules because this changes every year and what may have applied in previous years may or may not be applicable in the current year.
  4. Error in process
    There could be an error in the admission process, such as the right address not being used or parents having moved into the catchment area within the required time but this was not taken into account. 
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Your argument must be presented alongside hard evidence. Make sure you gather this in an organised manner to argue your case.  
Attach all your paper and email trails that you have had with your contacts. The communication needs to be structured and organised so that the appeal panel can easily review the information presented before them.
In case of extenuating circumstances which led to a child not performing well in the selective test, evidence of academic performance must be presented. Gather proof of this from the child’s existing school. These can include school reports and test results.

A few important points to keep in mind…

Accept a school place so that your child has a secondary school to go to for Year 7. Accept a place that you have been given, and make sure you’re on the waiting list for your preferred school(s). Check to see if your child’s name is on the list. You can add your child’s name to more than one school’s waiting list. 
Do not denigrate the school where your child has been offered a place. The panel wants to hear and consider the arguments of why your child needs to go to a particular school. Do not bang on about the reasons why the allocated school is not right for your child. 
Evidence must be robust when you make your argument. Your argument must not be subjective. They must be strong and explain why your child needs to get a place. in a particular school. 
Be prepared for the process and the work involved. It can be daunting. It is your right to appeal and be heard. 
Read the Admissions code. These are the rules that are used to make admission decisions. You will find a link that will give you information on this.
Ensure you receive confirmation of the receipt of your appeals form and the notification when your appeals panel hearing is going to take place. Save both of them.

If you think you have grounds for making an appeal, attempt this process for peace of mind and to be heard. Give it a try. As the author of The Cadwaladar Quests books, Sheena Ager, says, you miss the shots you don’t take. 

Important links that can benefit you

Find out the local council’s admissions department details –

Appealing a school’s decision

Ace Education Advice

School Admissions Appeals Code

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