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Hertfordshire County Council

Appeal panels decide whether to accept or reject your appeal, based on the evidence presented to them before and during the hearing.

You can appeal a decision to refuse your child admission to a school. 
You cannot lodge an appeal if:

  • you already appealed in the same academic year
  • your child has been permanently excluded twice
  • your child has an EHCP (there is a separate process and you should contact your SEND Officer).

Admissions appeals are heard virtually using MS Teams. If this causes a problem, email as soon as you have lodged your appeal.

The panel's decision is final. If they accept your appeal, the school must offer your child a place. If it rejects your appeal, you can't appeal again. The decision can't be reversed. If you have concerns about the legality of the process for any reason, email, marked for the attention of the manager.

If the manager is unable to resolve your concerns regarding the legality of the appeal, then you have the right to contact the Department of Education to independently investigate.

Who's on the panel?

Appeal panels are made up of 3 people, with at least one:

  • lay person – someone without personal experience of managing a school or the provision of education in any school (except as a school governor or volunteer)
  • person who has experience in education, who is acquainted with educational conditions in the local authority area or who is a parent of children currently at school.

A Clerk is also present to ensure the appeal is conducted fairly. The Clerk does not have any say in the decision. They're there to:

  • explain the process and answer your questions at the hearing – they're an independent source of advice on admissions and appeals law
  • make sure the relevant facts are presented and recorded
  • provide assistance and information to all parties before and during the hearing
  • take a written record of the proceedings.

What appeal panels can't do

A panel can't:

  • enter into a debate with either party on issues raised
  • specify any conditions if it accepts your appeal
  • hear complaints or objections on wider aspects of local admission policies and practice
  • reassess the capacity of the school 
  • order the admission authority to change your position on the school's continuing interest list
  • allocate a place at a school other than the one you appealed for.  

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disabilities

If you think your child has been refused a school place because of their disability, you have a right to appeal.

Appeal panels will consider whether your child has been refused admission because of their disability.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), we can't arrange your appeal. You need to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).

Contact the Special Needs Officer dealing with your case.


The appeals hearing

You’ll be invited to attend the hearing via a Microsoft Teams video-conference. A link will be sent to you a few days ahead of the hearing date. Contact the team if you have not received it 48 hours ahead of your hearing.

When you click / tap the link, you will be held in a waiting room. You'll be invited in when the panel is ready. Your hearing time is approximate and you may need to wait for up to half an hour to be admitted if a previous case has run late. If you have technical issues on the day, you can use the 'dial-in' code on the invitation link to call in by phone.

Appeals hearings last 30-45 minutes.

The panel will ensure that you have had your say. You should ensure all evidence has been submitted ahead of the hearing. You don't need to read it out to the panel.

You decide how to organise your presentation to the appeal panel.

If you don't want to attend the hearing, the panel will consider your appeal based on the written evidence you provided with your appeal form. This also happens if you don't arrive on time. Once an appeal has started, if can't be rescheduled, so please be prompt.


Bringing other people to the hearing

You can ask a friend or solicitor to speak on your behalf, or they can attend the virtual appeal in your absence. You can also call witnesses.

Whatever you decide, let us know.

You can’t ask a representative of the school you’re appealing for to come with you. Equally, the panel can't accept letters of support from representatives of the school.


If you struggle communicating in English verbally, contact the team. We an arrange interpreters for appeals, free of charge.


Bringing your child

Your child is allowed to attend the hearing as a witness, but this can be a difficult experience. The panel may decide to allow the child to speak initially, then ask them to leave the hearing once they have given their evidence. You will therefore need to make arrangements for them to be looked after if required.


The 2 types of appeal

All panels check to make sure admission arrangements have been correctly and legally applied. Beyond that they can follow one of two processes:

1. Infant class size appeals

This applies to Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 where class sizes are limited to a maximum of 30 pupils.

Infant class size appeals – read more

Infant class size appeals differ from other school admission appeals because the panel is limited on the circumstances in which an appeal can be upheld.

The panel can only review the decision to refuse admission. Therefore it can only consider information that was available to the admission authority at the time the decision was made.

The panel can't consider personal circumstances for a place in your preferred school.

When considering the decision to refuse admission, the panel must take into account:

  • whether the admission of an additional child would breach the infant class size limit of 30 in the current year or future years
  • whether the admission arrangements comply with admissions law
  • whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in your child’s case
  • whether the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

To uphold an appeal, a panel must establish that the decision to refuse admission was as a result of an error and / or was unreasonable.

1.  Error – where the admissions authority has made an error in applying its admissions criteria (for example, where your home to school distance has not been calculated correctly), which has resulted in your child being wrongly denied a place. It's not enough to simply identify an error .

2.  Unreasonable – the panel would need to be satisfied that the decision to refuse to admit the child was so illogical in light of admission rules that no sensible person could have arrived at it.


2. Two-stage process appeals

This applies to all other year groups, not subject to infant class size legislation.

Two-stage process appeals – read more

Stage 1 – Establishing the facts

The appeal panel must establish:

  • whether the admission arrangements have been correctly applied and comply with admissions law
  • whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in your child’s case
  • whether to admit additional children would cause "prejudice to efficient education or the efficient use of resources".

The panel will uphold an appeal at this stage where:

a) it's clear that your child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly applied or had complied with the mandatory requirements


b) it finds that the admission of additional children would not prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources.

However, when hearing multiple appeals for the same school and year group and:

  • there are a number of children who would have been offered a place
  • to admit that number would seriously prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources

the panel must proceed to the second stage of the appeal.

The panel can't reassess the organisation or capacity of the school but should consider the impact of admitting additional children in terms of:

  • organisation and size of classes
  • availability of teaching staff
  • the effect it would have on a school in the current and following academic years.

If the panel is satisfied that the admission authority representative has made its case, the panel will move to stage 2 of the appeal.

Stage 2 – balancing the arguments

The appeal panel must consider whether the grounds for your child to be admitted to your preferred school outweigh any ‘prejudice’ that would be caused to the school by a further admission.

The panel will balance:

  • the consequences for the school and other children by a further admission


  • the weight of the parent's case.

At this stage the panel will take into account your specific circumstances and your reasons for expressing a preference for the particular school.  Each appeal is considered on its own merits.

The panel can't take into account the position of your child on any continuing interest list.

When dealing with multiple appeals, if the panel finds that there are more cases that outweigh prejudice than the school can admit, it must compare cases and uphold those with the strongest case for admission.


Panels make sure decisions comply with the School Admissions Appeals Code and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.


Preparing for your hearing

You are responsible for:

  • presenting your case
  • deciding what you want to say
  • what information you want the panel to have.  

Evidence the panel might need

  • Medical or social – if your case is based on medical or social reasons, you should provide written evidence from a doctor, medical practitioner or other professional to support this. 
  • Moved house – if your case is based on a house move, provide written evidence such as an exchange of contracts or a tenancy agreement. We advise you not to appeal until you have exchanged contracts.  

Additional evidence

If you want to submit any supporting evidence after lodging your appeal, please use the school appeals system and send it by the evidence deadline given. Remember, evidence must not contain personal or sensitive information. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have removed it or have written permission to share it.

If you've got a short document (like a doctor’s letter which wasn't previously available), we'll accept that up to 4 working days before your hearing. 

Continuing interest / waiting list positions must not be included. The panel is not required to accept any evidence that is submitted after the evidence deadline.


The admission authority's evidence

A copy of the admission authority’s policy and statement will be shared 7 working days before the appeal (unless you've been requested to agree shorter timescales).

The statement will summarise why it hasn't been possible to offer a place, which will be either that:

  • to admit another child would have prejudice on educational provision and resources within the school
  • the addition of another pupil would exceed the infant class size limit of 30
  • a higher preference school has been offered to your child.

We will also share a copy of any other document being used by the admission authority as part of its case. All documents that you and the admission authority have shared with the Appeals Team will be passed to the panel and Clerk before the hearing. 

A representative of the admission authority will put forward the school’s case to the panel. We'll let you know if they decide to call a school representative as a witness.

When you'll hear the decision

Don't call us for the decision. We can't give you the outcome of your appeal over the phone.

We will share the decision through the school appeals system or email you, if necessary.

If your appeal is heard during the autumn or spring term, we'll normally inform you of the result within 5 working days of your hearing. A more detailed decision letter will follow within 28 days.

During the summer term, decisions can take much longer because many appeal hearings take place then. Schools may have several days of appeals hearings. We'll let you know within a few days of the decision being made. We'll follow this up with a more detailed letter within 28 days. This could be a few weeks after your hearing, after all the appeals for that school have been heard.


When you can't appeal

Sometimes you don't have the right to appeal a decision.

  • If your child has been permanently excluded from 2 or more schools, you'll lose your right to appeal for a school you want for your child.
  • If you have already had an appeal for the same school and academic year.


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