Appeals over secondary school places up by a third

Secondary school place appeals have risen for three years in a row while the number at primary have dropped

School admissions: The success rate in parents' admission appeals has been revealed in new figures

The number of parents appealing because they are unhappy with their child's allocated place in secondary school has increased by 32 per cent over the past three years, new figures reveal.

Appeals at secondary school have increased year-on-year from 2015-16 to 2018-19, while primary school appeals have declined, new data from the Department for Education shows.

The figures also show that the number of parents successfully appealing against a decision over the child’s school place has increased this year compared with 12 months ago.


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The numbers of parents appealing about secondary school places has increased from 29,031 three years ago to 38,473 this year.

Appeals over school places 

The number of secondary cases heard by an appeal panel has risen from 22,964 to 31,769 in that time.  

However, the proportion of successful secondary school appeals has fallen slightly. In 2018-19, 23.3 per cent of appeal cases were successful compared with 26.6 per cent in 2015-16.

The number of parents who appealed over secondary school places in 2017-18 represented 5.5 per cent of all secondary school admissions. This was up from 4.5 per cent of parents appealing in 2015-16.

At primary level, the trend was reversed with fewer people appealing but a higher proportion of panel decisions being successful.

In 2015-16, 33,270 parents appealed and 22,820 had their case heard. This year the numbers have fallen to 20,947 people appealing – a drop of 37 per cent on three years ago – and 14,086 cases being heard.

However, there has been an increase in the success rate with 19.7 per cent of appeal panels finding in parents' favour this year compared with 18.2 per cent three years ago.

Overall, the number of appeals that were successful in 2018-19 was 10,177 – a success rate of 22.2 per cent for the cases that were heard by an appeals panel.

This represented an increase in the number (9,715) and percentage (21.8 per cent) of cases that were successful the previous year.

Postcode lottery

The figures also show major variations in parents’ chances of being successful on appeal, depending on where they live.

At primary level, the local authority area with the highest proportion of appeals that were upheld was Bath and North East Somerset, where 80 per cent of the 15 cases heard found in the parents' favour.

There were several authorities in London – along with Bracknell Forest, Brighton and Hove and the East Riding of Yorkshire – where no primary appeals were upheld.

Of these, the East Riding rejected the highest number of appeals with 39 cases.

The local authority with the highest number of appeals heard for all primary schools was Essex, with 547 cases, of which 15 per cent were upheld.

At secondary level, the local authority with the highest proportion of secondary appeals upheld was Hartlepool, at 77.8 per cent.

At the other end of the scale, Knowsley upheld no appeals – with only seven being heard. The next lowest secondary appeals success rate was in Harrow, where just 2 per cent of the 50 appeals heard were found in parents' favour.

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