Education admissions appeal process and FAQ’s

This page will help you understand what is involved in an independent education admissions appeal on the Island.

It is not intended to be a complete legal guide, although every effort has been made to cover all the important points, and answer questions that you may have. 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your application, you have the right to appeal to an independent, impartial, and informal panel. That is an appeal. You do not have an automatic right to a place at the school of your choice. Instead, you have a right to state a preference for the school you wish your child to attend. Sometimes there may not be enough places at the school for everyone who wants one. If you are refused a place you have the right to appeal against this.

The process should be started as soon as possible after you have been made aware of the decision to refuse your child a place at your preferred school.

You need to complete an appeal form. The form should be completed carefully and honestly. You should give as much information as possible, setting out all the reasons why you want your child to attend the particular school and/or why you do not wish them to attend the allocated school. It is important that this section is completed in as much detail as possible and that it includes any supporting evidence (e.g. medical documents, written reports), particularly if you are not attending the appeal meeting - this is the only information the panel will have.

Visit our Appeal guide for parents webpage to view links to the forms.

In-year appeals (when you are applying to transfer your child during the school year) must be held within 30 school days of the date your form is received. If you are appealing for Year 7 or Reception (September start) your appeal must be held within 40 school days of the deadline for submitting appeals. The deadline is 20 school days from the offer day, usually the first working day after the 1 March (secondary) or 16 April (Primary). School holidays are not counted and appeals will not be heard during a school holiday.

Appeal panels are relatively informal. The following procedure ensures that both parties have the opportunity to present their case. When you arrive for the appeal you, along with the representative of the admissions authority will be directed to the waiting area. The clerk will check you have received all the paperwork and will outline the procedure to be followed. Both you and the representative of the admissions authority will be invited to enter the room at the same time, the panel members will already be seated. The appeal will then be heard.

Firstly, the chairman will introduce everyone and explain the procedure to be followed. The representative of the admission authority will then be asked to put forward their case for refusing your child a school place, based on written submissions. The chairman will invite the panel members, and yourself, to ask any questions relating to the school's case for refusal. At this stage you should not refer to your own circumstances. You will then be invited to present your case. You should expand on the reasons you have provided as to why you would like your child to go to the school in question, as contained in your appeal form. The chairman will then invite the panel members, and their representative of the admissions authority, to ask any questions about your reasons. After the representative of the admissions authority has summed up their reasons for refusing your child a place, you will be asked to sum up your reasons for wanting a place at the school. Shortly after, both you and the representative of the admissions authority will be asked to leave. Finally, the panel will make their decision, and you should be notified of the outcome in writing within 5 school days of the last hearing.

If you are unable to submit evidence at the same time as your appeal form, you should forward it to the clerk, at least eight working days prior to the appeal. This will give the panel and the admissions authority sufficient time to read the document prior to your appeal. Evidence not submitted by this deadline might not be considered at the appeal or may result in your appeal being delayed. You can request a copy of your original application form from the Isle of Wight Council or the school’s governing Body. The information you provide to us will be shared with the panel members allocated to hear your appeal, the admissions authority, and the clerk attending the hearing. Your information will be held for up to 2 years, in line with the Schools Admissions Appeals Code (2022).

The clerk will arrange the appeal panel. Admission appeals are dealt with under the school admission appeals code (2022). The purpose of the code is to ensure the independence of admissions appeal panels and to ensure that all admissions appeals for maintained, academy, church aided and trust schools are conducted in a fair and transparent way. It should be noted that the code has the force of law.

Yes, you can attend virtually via telephone or video. If you wish to do so please contact the clerk.

Who will be at my appeal hearing?

A panel of three members, a clerk and a representative of the admissions authority to explain their reason for refusing your child a school place.

You can bring someone such as a family member or a friend to attend if you wish. There is no need for your child to attend (but they may do so if you so wish).

The panel will try to ensure that the appeal is as informal as possible, therefore legal representation is not necessary. However, if you do intend to be legally represented you should inform the clerk at least seven days before the hearing. You have the right to call witnesses, but it is not normally necessary for witnesses to attend. If you do intend to call witnesses you should inform the clerk at least seven days before the hearing and give the reasons why you wish them to speak.

Due to the number of people involved and the urgency to settle appeals it is unlikely that the date can be changed. The appeals panel may, however, put off making a decision until more information is provided. If this happens you will be informed and may be asked for further information on specific points. If you do not wish to attend the hearing, the appeals panel can make a decision using your written submissions.

If you are disabled or have other special needs, including the need for an interpreter, or you require the documents in large print or a loop system to be available, then please contact the clerk who will make arrangements to ensure that the appeal is heard in a way that is suitable for you

There will be three people who are independent of the school and admissions authority. At least one person will be experienced in education and usually knows the educational conditions in the area or is a parent of a pupil at the school. At least one person will be a layperson with no personal experience in the management of a school or the provision of education (except as a school governor or a volunteer). The third will be a person from either of the above categories. None of the panel members will have any connection with the admissions process affecting your particular case, or any former knowledge of your case other than your appeal form and supporting documents and the admissions authorities statement.

The clerk is independent of the school and the admissions authority and makes the necessary arrangements for the hearings, ensuring all written material has been circulated to all parties. The clerk's role is to provide independent advice on procedures; they do not have any say at all in the panel's decision.

The clerk will make brief notes to assist the panel's decision-making process and keep record. These notes will be kept secure and in most cases be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act. There are two circumstances where they may be disclosed. The first would be if there has been a request from the Local Government Ombudsman as part of their investigation of a complaint about the conduct of an appeal. The second would be where the information is required as part of court proceedings, for example, where a panel’s decision is challenged by judicial review.

Multiple appeals

Multiple appeals are when a number of appeals have been received in relation to the same school or year group.

All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that multiple appeals for a school are heard by one panel with the same panel members. When a panel hears multiple appeals, no decisions can be made until all the appeals have been heard, this may be some days after your own appeal hearing. When it is possible, multiple appeals will be grouped together. The presenting officer’s case is usually heard in the presence of all parents at the beginning of the hearing (or at the start of each day when hearings run over a number of days). Your case will be heard individually without the presence of other parents.

When reaching a decision on multiple appeals the panel must follow the two-stage process. If the panel decide that the school can admit a number of children without causing prejudice, the panel must uphold at least that number of appeals. The admissions authority will decide how many pupils the school can admit using the net capacity, without adversely affecting the efficient and effective education of the pupils at the school. The number that the school will admit is the Published Admissions Number (PAN). The admissions authority will argue that to go beyond the PAN will cause problems, and will explain what those problems are.

The decision making process

Panels follow the two-stage decision making process for all appeals (except for infant class size appeals). At stage one, the panel will examine the decision to refuse admission. At stage two, the panel will balance the arguments.

Firstly, the panel have to decide if the published arrangements complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and the School Standards and Framework Act in 1998. The panel will then determine whether a mistake was made which has resulted in a place being denied. They will then need to decide whether the admission of an additional child would cause prejudice or problems for the school. Finally, the panel will consider a number of factors, including the school's accommodation arrangements and the school's published admission number.

The panel will consider your reasons for expressing a preference for the school, including what that school can offer your child that the allocated school (or any other schools) cannot, and why you feel your child should attend that particular school. The panel will balance your case against the problems that a further admission may cause the school.

Infant class size appeal

An infant class size appeal is when you are appealing for a place in either Reception, Year 1 or Year 2.

This is because the law limits the size of infant classes to a maximum of 30 pupils per teacher (there are exceptions to this rule for certain limited categories of children).

Current legislation only allows a panel to uphold an appeal for admission to reception and Years 1 and 2 on limited grounds. If none of these circumstances apply to your case, law says that the panel must refuse your appeal: 1. If the panel finds that the admission of an additional child would not breach the infant class size limit, or; 2. If the panel finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with the law, or were not correctly and impartially applied (and your child would have been offered a place if they had); 3. If the panel finds that the decision which the admissions authority took was unreasonable (the threshold for this is very high).

After your appeal hearing 

The panel will discuss the appeal based on the information presented by yourself and the admissions authority. The Clerk will remain with them and advise on the procedure and the law but will not play a part in the decision making.

The clerk will notify all parties of the appeals panel’s decision in writing. Every effort will be made to ensure that you are notified of the decision (and the reasons for it) within 5 working days of the decision. If a large number of appeals are being heard this may delay the notification letter being sent. You will be told if that is the case.

If the appeal is successful, arrangements will be made for your child to attend that particular school.

If you believe the panel has acted incorrectly, you may make a complaint of maladministration. This complaint must relate to issues such as failure to follow correct procedure or failure to act independently or fairly. You cannot complain simply because you do not agree with the panel's decision.

For complaints against the appeal panel for schools maintained by the local authority you should contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

For complaints against the appeal panel for an academy you should contact the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Organisation who may be able to give you advice

Contact details for appeals:

To submit additional evidence, confirm your attendance, or withdraw your appeal, please contact the Clerk via email at or in writing to Democratic Services, Isle of Wight Council, County Hall Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1UD.

More information and useful links: