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My child didn’t get into our choice of school in England – what now?

If you’re not happy with the school placement your child has been given, you have the right to appeal – it doesn’t matter if they have a statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or not, but how you go about appealing is different. There's information from the Government about appealing your school placement. You might also like to read The School Admissions Appeal Code.

How to appeal

You’ll find details of how to appeal in the local authority’s admission letter outlining your offer. The letter will also give you a deadline to appeal by. You can only make one appeal for each school that doesn’t offer you a place. If more than one school declines to admit your child, you can make separate appeals.

Timescales for appealing

You must be given 20 school days to send in your written appeal. In some areas you may be able to submit your appeal online.

The appeal hearing

The appeal must be heard within 40 school days. You should receive 10 school days’ notice of when the hearing will be. The appeal will be heard by a panel of three people. The local authority will appoint people to the panel. They must ensure that these people are independent of the local authority and provide them with training. The panel should include ‘lay people’ (people who are not involved in managing schools) and, separately, people with ‘experience in education’.

When to expect a decision

The panel should let you know their decision in writing within five school days of the hearing.

How to appeal

If your child has a statement or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan you need to appeal through the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) England. Section I of the EHC plans sets out the ‘placement’ or which school your child is expected to attend.

Appealing against other sections of the plan

If you’re appealing against other sections of the plan in addition to the placement, you’ll need a mediation certificate before you can register your appeal. This is a certificate that says that you considered or underwent mediation.

It’s usually a good idea not to appeal just against section I, because this won’t allow you to discuss your child’s needs and the provision they need: the discussion will only be about whether the schools in question can make the provision, which is already set out in section F (special educational provision).

More information on appealing against sections of statements and EHC plans.

Timescales for appealing

You must appeal within two months of the date on the letter from the local authority giving you their decision or one month from the date on the mediation certificate, whichever is later. You don’t need a certificate if you are appealing only against placements (section I).

You must contact a mediation adviser before registering an appeal about the contents of section B (special educational needs) and/or F (special educational provision). See How to Appeal to the Tribunal Against a Decision About Your Child’s Special Educational Needs.

The appeal hearing

The local authority has 30 days to respond to the appeal after SENDIST has registered it. You’ll be informed of the date and time of the hearing at least 10 days before it’s due.

When to expect a decision

You should receive the decision within 15 days of the hearing and the local authority has two weeks from the decision date to make the changes to school placement.