National School Offer Day: What If Your Child Didn't Get The Primary School Place Of Choice?

Increasing demand on schools to provide places for surging numbers of pupils means that at least one in eight children will learn that they have not been accepted into their first choice primary school.

Shadow education minister Tristram Hunt has accused the coalition government of allowing a 'crisis in school places' and warned that 'overflowing classrooms, teachers overstretched, longer morning school runs' could soon be the norm.

The shadow secretary cited statistics claiming that one in four councils will have insufficient school places this year, rising to nearly half in 2015. So with rising numbers of families set to receive disappointing news not only today, but on future offers days, what can parents do if they find out their child has not been accepted into their first choice primary school?

Appeals specialist John Walker gives parents who are wondering whether they have grounds for an appeal - and if so, how they should proceed and what chances of success they can expect - advice which they can use to make their decision.

Is it worth appealing?

It all depends on class size. Class sizes for five to seven-year-olds are limited to a 30 pupil maximum, so if your first-choice school has reached that limit then it is unlikely that an appeal will be successful.

However, if there are fewer than 30 pupils per teacher in your first-choice school, an appeal is far more likely to be considered in-depth and result in success.

If the first-choice school has reached its class size limit, are there other grounds for appeal?

Yes, but it's tricky. You'll have to show that either: the allocation procedure was misapplied, or that the decision not to offer your child a place was 'unreasonable'. As you can imagine, this can be difficult to prove.

Walker puts the success rate for such appeals at 27-29 percent, although this includes secondary school place appeals, too. For non-class size appeals, the figure is higher, as a child's circumstances will be taken into closer consideration.

And if my appeal is unsuccessful?

The most important thing is to plan for all eventualities. Walker says that parents who are appealing an offer decision need to remember to investigate all their options to ensure that, even if their appeal fails, their child will be in the best possible position.

And most importantly, put a brave face on in front of your child - they are going to school and they will have a wonderful time is the line to take.

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