The appeals process
Find out more about what happens after you have submitted an appeal for a school place
If you used the online appeal form, you will receive automatic confirmation that your appeal form has been received. Appeals lodged by email or post will be acknowledged within 7 working days.
Arrangements will be made to convene your appeal in accordance with the published timescales and alongside other appeals for the same school, where appropriate.
In normal circumstances, the majority of appeals would be held at a Council building in West Northamptonshire. Due to Covid-19, most appeals are currently being held remotely using Zoom video/audio conferencing. Emergency legislation which allows this to happen has been extended until September 2021.
Yes, it is recommended that you attend, but you should arrange childcare for young children to avoid interruption, where possible. You will be sent a Zoom link by email so you can join the appeal hearing at the appropriate time and date. A computer or tablet works best, but you can also participate on a smart phone.
Attendance is not compulsory. If you are unable to participate, the Independent Appeal Panel will consider your appeal on the basis of your written reasons for appeal and any evidence you submitted. You should therefore ensure that all your reasons for appeal have been clearly explained in writing, and that you have provided any supporting evidence you want the panel to consider, in advance of the appeal hearing.
You may be accompanied or represented (including legal representation) by anyone of your choosing, provided that there is no conflict of interest. For example, no member of the school to which admission is sought can support your appeal, as there would clearly be a conflict of interest. A professional advocate or legal representative will be at your own cost.
An Independent Appeal Panel comprising 3 people with no connection with the school or local authority will consider submissions from the admission authority and yourself:
- at least one member with experience in the provision of education
- at least one member with no experience in a paid capacity in the provision of education
- one member will chair
Only the panel will decide whether or not to uphold your appeal.
The panel’s decision will be binding on the admission authority and school. There is no further right of appeal.
|Appeal type||What happens at the appeal|
|Infant class size appeal||
The Panel will make its decision later, in private, after you and the admission authority have left. A letter explaining the panel’s decision will be sent to you and the admission authority within 5 to 10 working days after the panel has made its decision.
Note: In the case of multiple appeals for the same school and year group, the panel adjourns after the school’s case has been questioned, in order to hear individual cases in private, one at a time. All individual appeals will be heard before any decisions are made.
Note: In the case of multiple appeals for the same school and year group, the panel will decide if any additional pupils can be admitted without prejudice. Unless all can be admitted without prejudice to the school, the process will move on to the second stage and all individual appeals will be heard, one at a time, before any decisions are made.
Stage 2 decision - The panel will make its decision later, in private, or in the case of multiple appeals, after all appeals have been heard.
The panel will balance the weight of your reasons for appeal against the prejudice to the school and if they decide that your case is stronger, they will uphold your appeal; ie direct that the school admits your child.
A letter explaining the panel’s decision will be sent to you and the admission authority within 5 working days, or within 10 working days in the case of multiple appeals for the same school.
The school will be notified of the panel’s decision, which is legally binding unless overturned by the courts.
The school will contact you to make the necessary arrangements for your child’s admission to the school (without unnecessary delay in the case of in-year appeals).
You may contact the school yourself, once you have received a letter notifying you of the panel’s decision.
You will need to either accept the school place offered to your child, or search our website for other available schools and apply for them.
For co-ordinated appeals your child’s name will remain on the school’s waiting list until the end of the first school term, if you had made such request.
After this time, you will need to contact the admission authority if you want your child’s name to remain on the waiting list for another term.
You can write to the Appeals Manager, West Northamptonshire Council, Democratic Services, One Angel Square, Angel Street, Northampton, NN1 1ED, to explain the alleged flaw. An officer will investigate and respond to you in writing to inform you whether your allegation justifies offering you a fresh appeal.
If you remain dissatisfied, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman at 0300 061 0614 or via their website or email to [email protected] or write to The Local Government Ombudsman, PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH.
This can only be done by seeking permission to apply for Judicial Review through your own legal representative, at your own cost.
You can only appeal once in respect of each academic year and school, unless there have been significant and material changes in the circumstances of the parent, child or school. If the admission authority accepts a second application under these circumstances, but is unable to offer a place, you will be entitled to a new appeal.
You can reapply (usually during the summer term) for a place at the school for the following academic year.
Additional advice and support about the appeals process
- Coram Children's Legal Centre
- Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)
- School admissions and appeals code
Last updated 24 November 2021