This guidance will be of interest to those parents and carers who have not been able to obtain a place for their child in the school of their choice.
This guidance deals with the admission appeals for all Wirral schools where the local authority is the admission authority.
You can contact Mainstream Admissions Team who will be able to advise you further.
If you are appealing for any of the following schools you will need to contact them directly as they are their own admission authority:
- Calday Grange Grammar School
- St Anselm's College
- St John Plessington Catholic College
- Upton Hall School
- Birkenhead High School Academy for Girls
The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 give parents the right to express a preference for the particular school(s) they wish their child to attend.
If your request for a place at a particular school has been refused in writing by the admission authority, you can:
i) Appeal: you have the right to appeal against the admission authority’s decision to refuse the admission.
ii) Contact the Mainstream Admissions Team to ask about vacancies in other schools.
1. How do I find a school for my child to attend?
If you are told there is no place available at your preferred school, you should contact the School Admissions Team.
There are details of all Wirral Schools available on this website.
If you do not have internet access, the Mainstream Admissions Team and all Wirral Schools can provide you with printed booklets.
2. How do school waiting lists operate?
Waiting lists for community schools are maintained by Mainstream Admissions Team. If places become available they will re-allocate them to children whose parents or carers have either lodged an appeal or expressed a continuing interest in a place at the school concerned.
If you wish to register a continuing interest in a school, then you should indicate that on the reply slip attached to your allocation letter or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If there are more children interested in a school than available places, the same criteria will be used to determine priorities as used for the initial allocation.
After all appeals have been heard Mainstream Admissions Team will write to parents and carers who have a continuing interest or appealed unsuccessfully, asking if they wish their child to be added to the waiting list for a particular school.
If places become available during the Autumn Term they will be allocated from the waiting list with priority given in accordance with the criteria used in the initial allocation. The admissions team will cease to hold the waiting list at the end of the December. In January you will need to contact the school directly to enquire if there are any available places.
The following schools will have different arrangements for their waiting list and you should contact these schools directly for more information:
- Calday Grange Grammar School
- St Anselm's College
- St John Plessington Catholic College
- Upton Hall School
- Birkenhead High School Academy for Girls
3. I have considered all the other schools and I would like my child to go to my preferred school(s). What should I do?
You are entitled to appeal against the admission authority’s written decision to refuse your child a place at the school of your choice.
You can make an appeal using the appeal form on this website.
4. When can I not appeal?
For a Grammar School if your child has not sat the 11+ or sat the entrance exam as criteria for admission to the Grammar Schools.
If your child has been permanently excluded from two or more schools, you cannot appeal for two years from the date of the latest exclusion.
5. When should I appeal for a primary school place?
You should appeal when you have been refused a place in writing at your preferred school and you have considered other primary schools for your child. If your child is beyond the reception class age, you can appeal after you have been told in writing of the admission authority’s decision to refuse admission in the year for which you have applied.
Infant class sizes
Under Government legislation, infant classes must not contain more than 30 pupils with a single schoolteacher. If a place has been refused on the grounds of infant class size, an appeal can only be upheld if:
a) The child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented.
b) The child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had not been contrary to mandatory provisions in the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.
c) The decision to refuse admission was not one a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances.
The Panel is bound to dismiss cases which fall outside these circumstances.
Section 4 .10 School Admission Appeals Code
N.B. Consideration of 'Reasonableness'
The threshold for finding that an admission authority's decision to refuse admission was not one that a reasonable authority would have made are high. The panel will need to be satisfied that the decision to refuse to admit the child was 'perverse in the light of the admission arrangements' i.e. it was 'beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker' or 'a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied their mind to the question could have arrived at it'.
6. Is there a deadline for me to submit my appeal for a primary school place?
If you wish to ensure that your appeal for a reception place is considered before the end of the summer term, you should submit your appeal form by 21 May 2021.
7. Is there a deadline for me to submit my appeal for a Year 7 secondary school?
You should submit your appeal form by 31 March 2021 if you want to ensure that your appeal is considered before the 14 June 2021 otherwise it could be up to the end of the summer term.
8. How do I submit an In Year School Transfer?
Appeals for in- year admissions transferring to another school in the normal admission round, you can appeal after you have been refused a place in writing in that particular year group. Appeals for in-year admissions must be heard within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged.
9. How long will it take for my appeal to be heard?
a) Appeals for entry into Year 7 at secondary school in September 2021 received by the published deadline date of 31 March 2021 should be heard by 14 June 2021.
b) Appeals for entry into reception class F2 in September 2021, received by the published deadline date of 21 May 2020, should be heard before the end of the 2020 summer term.
c) If you miss the deadline for a reception class F2 appeal, it can't be guaranteed your appeal will be heard before the end of the summer term, it could be September or even October 2020 before your appeal is heard. This is because it not possible to arrange appeal hearings while the schools are closed for the summer holidays.
10. Why does it take so long?
The appeals process is laid down by legislation and correct procedures must be followed. They have been drawn up to ensure that both you and the admission authority have an equal opportunity to prepare the case for presentation to the Independent Appeals Panel. Once your appeal form has been received, the Admissions Officer gathers all the relevant information together (which usually also means contact with the school you have appealed for) and prepares a statement giving the reason why a school place is not available. The panel will then consider this alongside your case.
Panel members have a statutory duty to act in accordance with the following Acts and Codes:
(i) The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 as amended by subsequent legislation and case law.
(ii) The Codes on School Admissions and School Admission Appeals, which have been produced by the Department for Education.
(iii) The Equality Act 2010
(iv) The Human Rights Act 1998
Arrangements will be made to call a hearing of the Independent School Appeals Panel and you will be notified of this date at least ten school days prior to the hearing date. If a date is available earlier you can waive your right to the 10 days' notice.
11. What are the reasons for my appeal?
If you wish to appeal, you must complete the appeal form setting out your grounds in writing. If you believe the admission criteria hasn't been correctly applied it would be helpful to set out your reasons. The admission authority must not limit the grounds on which an appeal can be made.
If you also wish to submit any further supporting evidence, which you wish to be considered by the Panel this should be sent to the Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel no later than 5 working days before the date of your hearing. The Panel has to decide whether to accept it before the hearing commences.
Remember that you are appealing for a school rather than against the one you have been allocated.
12. Need I submit written medical evidence?
If there are medical reasons why a parent wishes their child to go to a particular school, they must submit this as written medical evidence. It is the responsibility of the parent (and not the admission authority) to obtain such evidence from the relevant medical professional.
13. I don't wish my child to miss any of their education before the appeal is heard and considered. What should I do?
You have a duty to ensure that your child is educated once they are 5 years old. You should arrange for your child to start at the school that has been offered to you. This will not have any bearing or affect the Panel's decision making for your appeal.
The Mainstream Admissions Team will offer an alternative school while you are waiting for your appeal to be heard.
14. Who will consider my appeal?
Your appeal will be heard by an Independent Appeals Panel.
15. What are group admission appeals?
Where there are a large number of appeals for a particular school, parents may be invited to attend at the same time to hear the admission authority’s general presentation. The Panel and all parents appealing for school places will then be able to put questions about the school's case to the representative from the admission authority.
The Chair will ask everyone to leave. You and all the other parents will be invited back in separately to make your individual cases at the times allocated during which the Panel and the admission authority representatives will then be able to ask you questions.
After all the appeals have been heard the Panel will then determine whether the admission authority has proved prejudice.
Infant Class Size please refer to point 5.
Grammar schools are permitted to select children for admission on the basis of academic ability and can leave places unfilled if there are not enough pupils achieving the entry level score.
Where you have not gone through the review process by the school, the panel must only uphold the appeal if it is satisfied:
i) That there is evidence to demonstrate that the child is of the required academic standard, for example, school reports giving Year 5/Year 6 SAT Results or a letter of support from their current or previous school clearly indicating why the child is considered to be of grammar school ability;
ii) Where the Planned Admission Number has been reached that the appellant’s arguments to admit the pupil outweigh the Admission authority’s case that admission of additional children would cause prejudice. Where you have gone through a review, the panel must only consider whether each child’s review was carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way and if there is no evidence that this has been done, the panel must then follow the process above. N.B. where several cases outweigh the prejudice and merit admission, but the Panel feels that the school could not cope with the number of successful appeals, the Panel only then should compare cases in rank order to decide which of them to uphold.
16. What does the Appeals Panel consider?
The Appeals Panel will consider:
- the appeal form submitted by the parent or carer
- the appeal statement prepared by the admission authority
- any other written evidence submitted by the Presenting Officer
- any oral representations by both representatives
A copy of the Appeal Statement will be sent to you by the Clerk no later than 5 school days before the date of the appeal hearing.
17. What happens at the hearing?
The hearing will be as informal as possible and the Chair will try to put you at ease. The Panel has to follow certain legal procedures. Details of the procedure will be sent to you by the Clerk when you are told of the arrangements.
18. Who attends the Appeal Panel hearing?
The following parties attend the Independent Appeals Panel hearing:
- the Independent Appeals Panel
- the Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel
- a Presenting Officer who may be accompanied by another person from the school
- occasionally an Observer may be in attendance, such as clerk undergoing training. If this happens the Chair will explain who this is.
- yourself and your representative. If you choose to bring a representative, they must not be an employee or governor of the school that is the subject of the appeal, as this could create a conflict of interest and be unfair to other parents who are appealing.
19. Who makes up the Independent Appeals Panel?
The Appeal Panel consists of three members. The Panel will comprise one person from each of the categories below:
(a) At least one person experienced in education who is acquainted with educational conditions in the area or who is the parent of a registered pupil at a school.
(b) At least one lay member. Lay members are persons without personal experience in the management or provision of education in any school (although lay members may have experience as governors of other schools or have been involved in education in any other voluntary capacity).
The third Panel member will be from either (a) or (b). The chair may either be a lay member or a person experienced in education.
None of the Appeals Panel will have any prior knowledge of the case other than your appeal form and the admission authority’s statement. All members of the Appeals Panel are independent of the school and the admission authority and will introduce themselves and their role.
20. Should I attend the appeal hearing?
You can choose whether to attend the hearing or not. Often, people can explain things more fully face to face than by putting their thoughts down in writing. If you do attend, you will be able to answer any questions asked by the panel. Each case is likely to last for about 20 minutes, although there is no set time limit.
If you decide not to attend the hearing, the Panel will consider and determine the appeal in your absence. In this situation the appeal will be dealt with by reference to the written information submitted by you and the admission authority and their Representative. It is therefore important that you tell the Panel in writing everything you want them to take into account.
At the appeal hearing, one of the aims of the Panel is to make sure that you get a full and fair hearing.
21. When and where are Appeals Panel Hearings held?
Usually at Wallasey Town Hall or another Local Authority facility. All meeting rooms used will be fully accessible to all, regardless of any disability. You will be notified at least ten school days prior to the appeal hearing.
22. What if I am unable to attend on the date given to me and ask for my Appeal to be deferred?
You should ring the Clerk immediately on 0151 691 8220 to either arrange a new date but it is important to make note this may not always be possible for appeals for group admission appeals heard on the same day. You can also proceed on your written evidence or you may send a representative.
If your appeal is deferred until after the other appeals have been heard for the same school it may be more difficult for it to be agreed.
23. What happens if I decide not to attend?
If you have indicated on your appeals form that you wish to attend the hearing but subsequently decide not to, it is extremely important that you inform the Clerk to the Independent Appeals as soon as possible either by:
- phone 0151 691 8220
- or email email@example.com
If you fail to attend on the day of the hearing and have not notified the Clerk prior to this date, it may be impractical to offer an alternative date. The Appeals Panel may go ahead and make its decision on the written information you have submitted.
24. How is the decision reached by the Appeal Panel and when will I be told?
The evidence presented before the Panel will all be carefully considered before a decision is reached. The Clerk will be in attendance. The Presenting Officer will not be present when the decision is made.
You will be notified in writing by email where possible no later than five school days after the hearing. In the case of group appeals five school days after all the appeals have been heard and the panel has reached its decisions by the Clerk to the Panel.
25. Is the decision of the Appeal Panel final?
Yes. The decision is binding on the admission authority unless it is overturned by the High Court.
26. What to do if my appeal has been refused?
Parents are under a duty to ensure that their children are educated.
You should find an alternative school for your child as soon as possible and you may wish to discuss your available options again with the Mainstream Admissions Team.
27. If my appeal is refused, can I appeal again?
For any particular school you can only appeal once per year. However, when there are significant and material changes in the circumstances of the parent or school, for example when a family changes home address, the Clerk to the Appeals Panel would consider whether a further appeal could be heard.
28. What if I wish to complain about the way my appeal has been dealt with?
If you are still unhappy after the appeal an Appeal Panel’s decision can only be overturned by the courts where the appellant or admission authority is successful in applying for a judicial review of that decision.
The Courts can consider the limited grounds of whether the Appeal process was unfair due to illegality, irrationality or procedural impropriety. The Secretary of State cannot review or overturn an appeal decision relating to a maintained school.
However, Appellants may complain about maladministration on the part of an Appeal Panel to the Local Government Ombudsmen in respect of maintained schools. A complaint to an Ombudsman is not a further appeal. It must relate to the administration of an appeal rather than the appeal decision.
Maladministration covers issues such as failure to follow correct procedures or failure to act independently and fairly.
It does not cover the merits of decisions that only the panel has the authority to make. Therefore, generally, the Ombudsman cannot consider whether the Appeal Panel was correct to uphold or dismiss the appeal. The Ombudsman is not able to overturn the Appeal Panel’s decision but, where they find that there has been maladministration, they may make recommendations for a suitable remedy.
If you are still unhappy after the appeal; an appeal panel’s decision can only be overturned by the courts where the appellant or admission authority is successful in applying for a judicial review of that decision.
The Courts can consider the limited grounds of whether the Appeal process was unfair due to illegality, irrationality or procedural impropriety. As the school concerned is an Academy, you cannot complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.
You may complain, however, to the Secretary of State in respect of appeal panels for Academies. Under Sections 496, 497 and 497A of the Education Act 1996, and under an Academy’s funding agreement, the Secretary of State may consider the limited grounds of whether:
a) The Panel was correctly constituted by the admission authority;
b) The admission authority has acted reasonably in exercising functions in respect of the appeals process or failed to discharge a duty in relation to that process.
The Secretary of State for Education may be contacted via the Education and Skills Funding Agency
29. How do I contact the Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel?
You can appeal using the Online School Appeal Form
Questions and requests for a hardcopy appeal form can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or sent by post to:
The Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel
Wirral, CH44 8ED
30. How do I contact the Mainstream School Admissions Team?
Tel: 0151 606 2000
PO Box 290
Wirral, CH27 9FQ
31. My child is not yet five years old. Can I appeal for a place at a nursery?
No. The appeals system only applies to primary and secondary
including Grammar schools.