IBB Law

What to do if you are unhappy with your child’s school offer

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1 March is the day when secondary schools in England will send out their offers of places to new pupils for September 2021. This is an exciting time but can obviously also be very stressful both for children and their parents.

This year things will be even more difficult as, due to restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, families will often have had to “choose blind” as a result of not being able to physically visit schools or meet staff before making a decision.

Where there is a problem with your child’s offer, it can be very distressing, causing you to worry about what this means for their future and what, if anything, you can do. The good news is that there are options if your child is not offered a place at the school you were hoping for or if it later turns out the school doesn’t live up to your expectations.

What to do if your child is rejected from their first-choice school

If your child is rejected from their first-choice school, you have the right to appeal the decision. The letter from the school’s admission authority should detail exactly how to make an appeal. If your child has been turned down by several schools, you will need to appeal each one separately.

For a successful school admissions appeal, you will need to show that one of the following applies:

  1. The school’s admissions criteria were not properly followed.
  2. The reason your child was rejected according to the school’s admissions criteria does not comply with the school admissions code.
  3. Your reasons why your child should be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting your child.

You will have to attend a school admissions appeal hearing, where you will need to provide your reasons why your child should be admitted to their choice of school. You will normally be given a decision from the appeals panel within five school days of the hearing.

Is it worth appealing your child’s school admissions rejection?

Deciding whether to appeal can be daunting, especially if you have not dealt with such a situation before and don’t know what your chances of success are. It is also important not to delay as school admissions authorities are only required to give you 20 days to make an appeal.

There is no one-size fits all answer to whether an appeal is likely to succeed. It will depend on the reason for the rejection and whether you believe the school’s admission criteria were wrongly applied, that they don’t meet the standards of the school admissions code or that there are special circumstances that should be taken into account when looking at your child’s application.

We strongly recommend speaking to our education law solicitors before making a school admissions appeal as we can advise on whether there may be grounds for an appeal and guide you through the appeals process. This can help to give you the best chance of success as we have many years of experience with school admissions appeals, so can ensure your appeal is as strong as it can be.

A key point to understand is that, when choosing to make an appeal, you will be given a deadline by which to submit all supporting information and any evidence for your appeal. Anything not submitted by this deadline may not be considered and could result in the appeals process being delayed. It is therefore worth speaking to our team early as, if we identify anything you have missed, we can make sure this is included in your appeal before it is too late.

What to do if your child’s school does not live up to your expectations

At the best of times, it is sometimes the case that a school doesn’t live up to our expectations for a variety of reasons. It may be that you feel the school was misrepresented, that you didn’t have all of the information you needed to make an informed decision or simply that your child doesn’t seem to be thriving in their new school.

With so many parents having had to choose schools this year without physically visiting them or being able to meet staff face-to-face, it is likely this will be a bigger than usual issue for the 2021/22 academic year. So, what can you do if you are unhappy with a school once your child has started there?

The first step should be to discuss your concerns with your child’s teachers, their head of year and/or headteacher as appropriate. It may be that they can address your concerns and that this will be the best outcome for your child. However, if you feel your child needs to be moved to a different school, this is normally perfectly possible.

The process of transferring your child from one school to another outside of the normal admissions process is referred to as ‘in year admission’. Such admissions may be handled by the school you wish to move your child to or by the local authority, depending on the school.

You can apply at any point during the academic year, but this should be done at least six weeks before you want the move to take place. If you want your child to finish the academic year at their current school before moving, you can apply from June and through the summer holidays.

Your child will need to meet the admissions criteria of the school you wish them to attend, so it is important to understand those criteria before making an in year admission application.

Our educational lawyers will be happy to advise on your options for challenging your child’s school over any aspect of their educational provision. We can also advise on in year admissions, including appealing against a rejected application if this becomes an issue.

Consult our expert education law solicitors about challenging your child’s school offer

At IBB Law, we are passionate about making sure children get the very best education. We know just how critical the right school can be for children, both during their education and for their future.

Our education law solicitors have extensive experience helping families to get children into their preferred schools. IBB Law Consultant Salima Mawji has been recognised as one of the UK’s leading experts in education law, so we can provide assurance that your child’s educational opportunities are defended effectively.

We offer an initial consultation for a fixed fee of £250 + VAT to discuss your child’s situation and provide clear, practical advice on your options if you are unhappy with the school place  offered. This consultation can take place over the phone or via video conferencing to suit you.

To book your initial consultation or to find out more about how we can help with making sure your child gets the education they deserve, please contact Salima Mawji.