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My child didn’t get into our choice of school in Wales – 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 not, but how you go about appealing is different.

For more information go to The Equality Act and your child's education.

Note: A new system for supporting children and young people with additional learning needs in Wales is being implemented from 1st September 2021 - replacing special educational needs (SEN). In time, all current support plans (including Statements, IEPs and LSPs) will be replaced with Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

Find out more about the changes in Wales on our page Additional learning needs (ALN) in Wales. We will update the website with more information on the new system in Wales shortly, in the meantime see Written Statement: Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal Act 2018 Implementation.

My child doesn't have a statement of special educational needs

How to appeal

The placement letter will give you details of the appeals procedure. The appeal will then be referred to the council’s legal department who will arrange for the appeal to be heard by the independent appeal panel. The local authority website should also have information about school admissions and how to appeal.

Timescales for appealing

Appeals must be submitted in writing within 28 calendar days of you being notified of the decision not to admit your child to your chosen school.

What happens at the appeal?

Your appeal will normally be heard in private, but, if there are a lot of appeals for one school the first stage of the appeal may be done as a group and have other parents present. The presenting officer will explain why the admission authority turned down your/the application(s) You’ll then have an opportunity to question the admission authority’s reasons for refusal. At this stage, if the panel decides that there was no need to refuse a place, the hearing will end and you’ll be informed that the appeal has been successful.

If the panel decides that there were reasons for refusal, then a second stage will follow. This will be an individual (private) appeal. You’ll have the chance to explain why your child should be provided with a place at the school even though it is full. The admission authority will have an opportunity to question your reasons.

The admission authority will then sum up the case You will also have an opportunity to sum up your case.

The panel will listen to all sides of the case and may ask questions at any time if they need clarification or more information to reach a decision.

When to expect a decision

You should be sent written notification of the panel’s decision within five working days.

My child has a statement of special educational needs

How to appeal

If your child has a statement of special educational needs (SEN) you need to appeal through the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW).

If you’re appealing because you want a different school to the one named in part 4 of the statement, you probably need to appeal against parts 2 (saying what your child’s special educational needs are) and 3 (saying what support your child should receive) as well.

If you disagree with the particular school, or the type of school, named in part 4 of the statement, you will need to give the name of another school, or specify the type of school you want your child to go to. You will also need to say why you think that school is appropriate for your child.

Timescales for appealing

You must appeal within two months of the date on the letter from the local authority giving you their decision. SENTW will register your appeal within 10 working days of receiving it. They’ll tell you when they have registered your appeal and inform you of the date your appeal will be heard.

The appeal hearing

The local authority has 30 days to respond the appeal after SENTW 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’ll 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.