Appeals - what happens if you are unable to gain a place at your preferred school

There are often more applications for some schools than there are places available for, therefore a place cannot be guaranteed at a preferred school.

If it has not been possible to offer your child a place at your preferred school, you have the right to appeal against the decision of the relevant authority, (the Local Authority in the case of Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools and the Governing Body in the case of Voluntary Aided and Academy Schools).

Appeals are heard by an independent panel and parents/carers are given the opportunity to state their case in writing and to attend the hearing in person. Parents/carers can bring along a friend or representative to support them.

Details of the independent appeals procedures and a notice of appeal form can be obtained from us for the majority of schools (if we do not issue the forms for your school, we will let you know who to contact).

The notice of appeal should be completed and returned within 28 working days to: Democratic Services, Town Hall, Darlington, DL1 5QT.

The decision of an appeal is binding on the Local Authority, the school and you.

To make a new appeal during the same academic year for a school that an appeal has already been heard for, is at the discretion of the Local Authority or admission authority, if for instance there has been a significant or material change in the family circumstances such as a house move. Applications for a new appeal for a voluntary controlled or community school should be made in writing to us. Voluntary Aided and Academy schools requests should be made direct to the governing body of the school.

Admission appeals timetable

In light of coronavirus (COVID-19) the Admission Appeals Timetable has been updated to reflect regulatory changes made by the Department for Education, which came into force on 24 April 2020 and will remain in force until 31 January 2021.

Secondary School

  • Secondary School Allocation Day – Monday 1 March 2021
  • Deadline for Receipt of a Secondary School Admission Appeal Form – to be confirmed
  • Secondary School Admission Appeals must be heard as soon as reasonably practicable and will be held at a date to be confirmed
  • Notification of appeal hearing date – At least 14 calendar days before the appeal hearing.
  • Deadline for the Admission Authority to submit their case papers to the Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel – At least 9 working days before the date of the appeal hearing.
  • Clerk to send appeal papers to Appellants, Panel and the Admission Authority – At least 7 working days before the date of the appeal hearing.
  • Deadline to submit additional information to the Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel – At least three days prior to your appeal date.
  • Decision Letter sent to appellants and Admission Authority within 7 calendar days of the decision being made.

Primary School

  • Primary School Allocation Day - Friday 16 April 2021
  • Deadline for Receipt of a Primary School Admission Appeal Form – to be confirmed
  • Primary School Admission Appeals must be heard as soon as reasonably practicable and will be held at a date to be confirmed
  • Notification of appeal hearing date – At least 14 calendar days before the appeal hearing.
  • Deadline for the Admission Authority to submit their case papers to the Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel – At least 9 working days before the date of the appeal hearing.
  • Clerk to send appeal papers to Appellants, Panel and the Admission Authority – At least 7 working days before the date of the appeal hearing.
  • Deadline to submit additional information to the clerk to the Independent Appeal Panel – At least 3 days prior to your appeal date.
  • Decision Letter sent to appellants and Admission Authority within 7 calendar days of the decision being made.

In Year Appeals

  • Deadline for Receipt of an In Year Admission Appeal Form – Within 28 calendar days of the date of your refusal letter.
  • In Year Appeals will be held as soon as reasonably practicable.
  • Notification of Appeal Hearing date – At least 14 calendar days before the appeal hearing.
  • Deadline for the Admission Authority to submit their case papers to the clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel – At least 9 working days before the date of the appeal hearing.
  • Clerk to send appeal papers to Appellants, Panel and the Admission Authority – At least 7 working days before the date of the appeal hearing.
  • Deadline to submit additional information to the Clerk to the Independent Appeal panel – At least 3 days prior to your appeal date.
  • Decision Letter sent to appellants and Admission Authority within 7 calendar days of the decision being made (usually within one school day of the decision being made).