Top tips on what to do if National Offer Day for secondary school places lets you down

As any parent knows, finding secondary school places for your children can be a difficult and sometimes even traumatic experience. Today, after all the research, form-filling and then months and months of waiting, the parents of more than half-a-million children in England will know whether or not their children have been accepted by their first choice of secondary school.

Unfortunately, school admissions remains a thorny issue and the panic that parents go through when their child does not get their first choice of school does not get any easier to bear.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones whose child was rejected by their first choice of school, here’s our list of top ten things to do if you are considering making an appeal.

What to do if you fail to secure a secondary school place

  1. First, don’t panic and don’t despair. Although it may seem like all is lost, it isn’t. You still have the right to appeal. And there is expert support from the likes of Match Solicitors to assist you.
  2. It is a good idea to accept the school that you have been offered so that your child has somewhere to go, even if this is a school you did not put down on your choice list. Accepting it will not prejudice your right to appeal.
  3. Make sure you’ve done sufficient research on your first-choice school, familiarising yourself with its specific over-subscription criteria.
  4. Make sure that your child’s name is on the waiting list of your first choice school.
  5. Think carefully about the grounds of appeal. Are your reasons for appeal as strong as they could be? Be sure to emphasise your most persuasive argument first.
  6. Be sure to gather as much relevant evidence as possible to support your appeal.
  7. Any medical and/or social reasons that have arisen since your original application was made must have official supporting evidence, such as a letter from a doctor etc.
  8. Keep in mind any time restrictions relating to your appeal — it would be a shame to miss out because of something as simple as poor time-keeping.
  9. Check out the Department for Education website, specifically the School Admission and the School Admission Appeals Codes. The more research you do, the better prepared you will be.
  10. Preparation is vital for any appeal. You should take all the time you have to figure out exactly what to say to the panel and prepare your paperwork as best you can.

As, only around a fifth of all appeals are ultimately successful, many parents choose to seek legal assistance to ensure their preparation is the best it can be.

Anita ChopraMatch Solicitors have had considerable success in helping parents fight to get their child a place at the school of their choice. If you’re considering launching an appeal, give them a call today to discuss your case in confidence.


Anita Chopra is a director at education law specialists Match Solicitors and is a regular media commentator on legal issues arising in education. She has a “huge breadth of experience across all kinds of education” and “has a great instinct for cases.”