By Alex Finnis
Half a million families will discover today where their children will be going to secondary school in September.
More children could lose out on their top choice this year as pupil numbers continue to grow, it has been suggested.
Up to 115,000 youngsters across England are expected to not be offered their first choice when places are announced on Friday, the Good Schools Guide warns.
Based on analysis of birth rates and the number of children leaving primary school, it estimates that 606,000 applied for places this year – an increase of 23,000 on 2018.
This means it’s more important than ever to know what your options are.
If your child misses their first choice, they will be placed in their second or third option. If they miss those too, then they should automatically be placed in any school with capacity in the local authority.
However, if you find that your child does not have a place, you should contact your local council, who will find them a place in your area.
That’s not the end though. If you’re unhappy you can appeal and still potentially get one of your top choices.
How to appeal
If you receive a letter from a school rejecting your child, it should also advise you how to appeal the decision.
You’ll have to appeal to the admission authority, which will either be the local authority or board of governors, depending on the type of school.
Don’t worry about accepting an offer before appealing a more desired option – this is totally fine and accepting the offer doesn’t make it final.
You have at least 20 school days to submit a written appeal against a school’s decision. You can only appeal each decision once.
The admission authority will set a deadline for submitting information and evidence to support your appeal.
If you submit anything after the deadline, it might not be considered and may result in delays to your hearing.
The admission authority must then give you at least 10 school days’ notice of the hearing.
Appeals should be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal, which means some decisions may not be made until the summer.
What happens at the appeal hearing?
- The admission authority will explain why they turned down your application
- You’ll be able to give your own reasons why your child should be admitted
- The appeals panel must decide if the school’s admission criteria were properly followed and comply with the school admissions code
- If the criteria were not properly followed or do not comply with the school admissions code your appeal must be upheld
- If your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting any more children at all, your appeal will be upheld
- You should receive your final decision within five school days
How can I make sure my appeal is successful?
The most important thing is to do your research.
Find out whether the school has previously admitted more pupils than it states, and whether it has caused any issues.
Make sure your appeal is detailed, polite and well written, laying our your arguments for admission clearly, supported by strong evidence.
Resist the temptation to get emotional, despite that being the natural reaction. Facts are your friend here more so than impassioned speeches.
If necessary, get supporting letters from experts arguing why your child should be admitted to a particular school.
For example, get a supporting argument from a doctor if your child needs to attend for medical reasons.
This article was originally published on our sister title iNews