School admission appeal guidance 2022

If your child has been refused admission to a Lambeth community or voluntary-controlled school, you have a legal right to appeal against this decision to an Independent Appeals Panel.

Admissions appeals — guidance notes

Your right of appeal

If your child has been refused a place at one of your preferred schools, you have the right to appeal the decision under the 1998 School Standards and Frameworks Act (“The Act”). You will need to lodge your appeal with the Local Authority (LA) for that school or the school which controls its own admissions.  The LA or the Governors must comply, in law, with a parent’s preference unless to do so would prejudice the provision of efficient education and/or the efficient use of resources.

You are strongly advised to accept the initial offer received from the admissions authority, even if you wish to appeal for a place at a higher preference school. Accepting the initial offer will not affect your chances of obtaining a place at a higher preference school via the waiting list or through the appeal process. Lambeth Admissions will not accept a rejection of the allocated place without evidence of an alternative place for your child.

Please note that the Lambeth Independent Education Appeals Service only accepts appeals for Lambeth community schools, voluntary-controlled schools, Oasis Academy Johanna, and Oasis Academy South Bank. If you wish to appeal against a decision not to admit your child to any other school (including academies, voluntary-aided schools, foundations and free schools) you will need to contact the individual school(s) directly to obtain information about how to appeal.

The Lambeth Independent Education Appeals Service therefore only accepts appeals for the following schools. Please check this list before completing the appeal form.

Primary Schools:

  • Allen Edwards
  • Ashmole
  • Bonneville
  • Clapham Manor
  • Crown Lane
  • Elm Wood
  • Fenstanton
  • Glenbrook
  • Granton
  • Heathbrook
  • Henry Cavendish
  • Henry Fawcett
  • Herbert Morrison
  • Hill Mead
  • Hitherfield
  • Jessop
  • Jubilee
  • King’s Avenue
  • Kingswood
  • Lark Hall
  • Loughborough
  • Oasis Academy Johanna
  • Paxton
  • Richard Atkins
  • Stockwell
  • Streatham Wells
  • Sudbourne
  • Sunnyhill
  • Telferscot
  • Walnut Tree Walk
  • Woodmansterne

Secondary Schools:

  • Oasis Academy South Bank
  • Lilian Baylis Technology School
  • The Norwood School
  • Woodmansterne School

Lodging an appeal

If you wish to appeal for a place at your preferred school, you have the right to be heard by an independent panel of people who were not involved with the original decision to refuse your child a place.  They will be people who have knowledge and/or experience of the educational system in the area.  The Act requires panels to also include ‘lay’ members who are not part of the local educational system and who can therefore provide an objective view of the parents’, the LA’s or the school’s case.  Appeals are held in private and the information given will be treated confidentially.  You may not appeal for the same school more than once in the same academic year unless there is significant and material change in circumstances from the time of the previous appeal.

You will be required to complete a form stating that you wish to appeal for a place at your preferred school.  This form will be given to the members of the Panel to read in advance of the appeal hearing, so it is important that you provide as much information as possible and, if appropriate, provide independent evidence, for example, from a doctor (please see below for further information), consultant, social worker, religious minister etc., that will support your case.  You may submit the form in the first instance and advise that further evidence is to follow, however, you are advised to submit any supporting information it as soon as possible.  

MEDSOC Panel

All MEDSOC supporting documents should have been submitted to the LA’s Admissions Team at the time of application.  If you have additional supporting MEDSOC documents that you wish to submit, these should be submitted via the Admissions Team, 0207 926 9503.  Please be advised that such paperwork would not normally form part of your appeal as this should be dealt with by the MEDSOC Panel.  You should also note that if your MEDSOC application is successful, there is a possibility that your child will only be prioritised higher on the waiting list, due to the Published Admission Number (PAN) for that particular year group having already been met. Furthermore, the Independent Appeal Panel cannot overturn a decision reached by the MEDSOC Panel.  However, the Panel may consider any additional information received and oral representations made by you to decide whether you or the school has the stronger case. 

To meet the criteria, it is essential that documentation is supported by an appropriate professional (e.g. general practitioners, educational psychologists, health care professionals, etc.) and clearly demonstrates why your favoured school is the only school able to meet your child’s needs.   If the documentation fails to demonstrate this, then it is possible that the case will be rejected by the MEDSOC Panel on the basis that another local school would cater for your child’s medical and/or social needs.  

If you submitted the MEDSOC documents at the time of submitting your Common Application Form, you should have received a MEDSOC decision outcome letter confirming whether or not the MEDSOC criterion was applied to any of your preferred schools (for which the LA is the admissions authority).  The decision letter should have confirmed that you cannot appeal against the decision reached by the MEDSOC Panel, however if you feel you have additional information to submit, this should be done via the School Admissions Team.   

Special Educational Needs

If your child has a statement of Special Educational Needs against the choice of school named in the statement.  Democratic Services cannot hear your appeal as this is not allowed under the legislation.  You should contact the relevant SEN Officer dealing with your case for further details on how to appeal. 

You must send the completed appeal form to the Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel (Democratic Services) at the address overleaf. For any other schools not listed on our appeal form, please contact the school directly to obtain their appeal form. 

An acknowledgement letter will be sent to you within five working days of receipt of the form.  If you have not heard back from us by then, please contact us immediately. We advise that you make a copy of the completed appeal form before submitting it.

The Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel (Democratic Services) will then:

  • write to you confirming the date and location of the appeal, ensuring we provide 10 school days’ notice of the appeal date (unless you have signed a waiver to agree to your appeal being heard in less than 10 school days)
  • invite you to attend the appeal hearing informing you that you may be accompanied by a friend or be represented.  If you cannot attend the appeal hearing in person, then your written appeal will be heard in your absence

Seven school days before the appeal hearing you will be sent an appeal pack including a written summary of the LA’s case along with a copy of your case and supporting evidence.

Timescales

Arrangements have been made for all Secondary transfer appeals for September 2022 to be heard on 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 May 2022.  Primary Reception appeals for September 2022 are scheduled to take place on 20, 21, 22, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29 and 30 June and 1 July 2022.  Please note that in cases where there is more than one appeal for the same school (multiple appeals), all appeals will be heard by the same Panel on the same day. In this event, if the date of your hearing is not convenient, it is unlikely that your appeal can be rearranged as multiple appeals cannot be determined until all the appeals have been considered. It would be unreasonable to delay decisions and request the same Panel to convene at a later date on account of one appeal. Please also note multiple appeals may be heard over a number of days if there is a large number of appeals lodged for a particular school.

Any appeals submitted after the deadline will be heard within 40 school days of the appeal deadline or 30 school days of the appeal being lodged, whichever is the later date.

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.

The appeal hearing

The appeal hearing provides you with the opportunity to explain why you believe your child’s needs and circumstances outweigh the admission authority’s decision to refuse your child a place at the school. Similarly, the admission authority has the opportunity to demonstrate how admitting another child would prejudice, or prevent, the provision of efficient education, or efficient use of resources for pupils who have already been admitted to the school.

The conduct of the appeal hearing is governed by the School Admissions Code that seeks to ensure hearings are impartial, structured and fair to all involved. View the School Admissions Code and School Admissions Appeals Code.

The appeal hearing will take the following order:

  1. Presentation of the case for the admission authority (Lambeth Council)
  2. Questions to the admissions authority from the parent/carer and appeal panel members
  3. Presentation of the case for the parent/carer
  4. Questions to the parent/guardian from the admission authority and appeal panel member
  5. Summing up by the admission authority
  6. Summing up by the parent/carer

All appeals for a particular school will be heard before decisions are made on individual cases.

You will be sent a letter informing you of the decision very soon after the hearing - the clerk, who advises the Panel on any legal or procedural matters, will tell you on the day when you should expect to receive it. Any decision made by the Panel is binding upon the LA and school. If your appeal is unsuccessful, your child can still remain on the waiting list for the school in case a vacancy should subsequently arise. Places will not be offered from the waiting list of any school until the number of offer drops below the published admission number.

If you have a disability, mobility problems, limited understanding of English or have a speech or hearing impairment, you may need an interpreter or signer to provide you with assistance at your hearing. If you need an interpreter or signer, we recommend that you bring someone along with you.

The appeal hearings are designed to be as informal and conversational as possible, with every effort taken to ensure that you are aware of the necessary procedure. If you have any questions before, during or after the appeal, please make these known to the Clerk. Legal representation will not normally be necessary although you are free to be represented should you wish.

Who is present at the appeal hearing

  • Three independent panel members.
  • The parent/guardian and a friend or representative (if required).
  • An officer from Lambeth Council representing the Admissions Authority and sometimes a representative from the school.
  • The Clerk to the Appeal Panel.
  • Occasionally an observer from the local authority. For training purposes there may also be a new panel member observing the hearing. The observer will take no part in the hearing.

The appeal decision

Once your appeal has been heard, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. The appeal is dismissed and your child is not offered a place at the school.
  2. The appeal is upheld and your child is offered a place at the school.

Appeal panels must follow a two-stage decision process for all appeals other than those against decisions made on the ground of infant class size prejudice (see below). The Panel first has to consider whether the school’s published admission arrangements complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the 1998 School Standards and Frameworks Act and assess whether they were correctly applied in the individual’s case. The Panel then has to decide whether prejudice to the provision of efficient education and/or the efficient use of resources would arise if the child were to be admitted. 

If the Panel agrees that the addition of an extra child would cause prejudice to the provision of efficient education, it must then move to the second stage of the decision-making process and balance the degree of prejudice against the reasons put forward by the parent/guardian for a place at the school. If the Panel considers that the appellant’s case outweighs the prejudice to the school, it must uphold the appeal.

Infant class size appeals

Please note there are limited grounds for a Panel upholding an appeal for a place in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 (Key Stage 1) as regulations state that there must not be more than 30 pupils in each class per school teacher. An appeal panel can only offer a place where it is satisfied that one of the following is true:

  • The child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented.
  • The child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had not been contrary to the mandatory provisions in the School Admissions Code and The Act.
  • The decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case. (Here it would have to be shown the decision was perverse, not simply that you disagreed with it.)
  • If a child has moved into the area after places have been allocated and the Appeal Panel agree that the alternative offer made by the LA was unreasonable.

In considering an infant class size appeal the Panel is a review body. It is reviewing the admission authority’s decision in light of the material available at the time when it made its decision.

Submitting your appeal form and contacting us

We will confirm receipt of submission within five working days.

For general queries about the process of admission appeals and submitting your appeal form, please contact us via:

Complaints

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has factsheets that provide general information about the most common type of complaints.

London Borough of Lambeth

Complaints
London Borough of Lambeth
PO Box 734
Winchester
SO23 5DG

Make a complaint

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

The Ombudsman
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
Coventry
CV4 0EH

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman website.

The Education Funding Agency

The EFA is the government agency responsible for investigating complaints about academy panels. EFA can only investigate complaints about panels that did not follow the procedures set out in the School Admissions Code 2012 (the “Appeals Code”). Further details can be obtained from the The Education Funding Agency website.

Department for Education

The Secretary of State
Department for Education
Castle View House
East Lane
Runcorn
Cheshire
WA7 2GJ

Further information

The Coram Children’s Legal Centre offers free legal advice on education law including advice on school admission appeals and exclusions. Coram provides online access to legal factsheets and a telephone advice service on 0300 330 5485 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday).

The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) is an independent advice centre for parents, offering information about state education in England and Wales for 5-16 year olds. ACE offers advice on many topics like school admission appeals. You can download their booklet “Appealing for a School”. They also have an advice line on 0300 0115 142 (Monday to Wednesday 10am to 1pm).