How to Appeal a Grammar School Place
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Unfortunately, students don’t always get their first choice of grammar school.
If, as a parent, you think there are grounds to appeal the decision, there are steps you can take to have your case heard. In this post, we look at how to appeal a grammar school place decision.
Before You Appeal a Grammar School Place
Before you make an official appeal, it’s good to have a back-up plan. Start by requesting for your child to be placed on the waiting lists of any other schools that they’d want to attend. Even if you didn’t choose the schools on your preference form, you can still make the request. Places often become available before September as offers are declined and students relocate.
Visit the school that your child has been offered if you haven’t already. Dismissing a school place on the grounds that it simply wasn’t your first choice isn’t a good idea. Arrange for you and your child to visit the school for a tour. After speaking with students and staff, you may discover that the school would be a good fit for your child after all.
Double check if your child would qualify for a bursary to their first-choice, or other suitable schools. Many grammar schools offer bursaries to pupils who demonstrate exceptional ability in certain subjects like Art, Drama, Music, or Sports. Some schools even offer bursaries for extra-curricular activities like chess.
What Are the Grounds for a Grammar School Appeal?
There are two instances where you can appeal a grammar school place. The first is when the school hasn’t properly followed its own admissions procedures. And the second is when your child will be at harm by not attending the school.
In the first instance, you should check the grammar school’s admissions policy to make sure that it has been followed correctly. If not, you could make this the basis of your appeal. Alternatively, if you believe that your child will be at harm by not being offered a place, you’ll need to provide solid reasons. Some examples might include:
- Difficult family circumstances
- Religious reasons
- Special needs or health issues that only your first-choice school can cater for
- Exceptional ability in a subject that the school specialises in
- Travel issues
- Personal or emotional issues, such as bullying, etc.
It’s important to remember that you need to demonstrate exceptional circumstances for the appeal, as very few are actually awarded.
Making a Grammar School Appeal
Legally, you can appeal any grammar school decision, whether the school was your first, second, or third choice. The appeals process can vary slightly from school to school, so it’s important that you find out each school’s specific policy.
When you receive notification of your school place (whether awarded or not), the paperwork will outline the school’s appeals process. From there, you can follow the steps to lodge the appeal. You should note the deadline for submitting your paperwork and supporting evidence. In some cases, a letter of intent will be accepted as an initial notification.
You should also find out who will hear your appeal. In some counties, it’s the local authority that makes the decision, and in others, it’s the school itself.
As part of the process, you will be required to submit supporting evidence, demonstrating your reasons for the appeal. Again, each school is different, but appeals evidence can include:
- Letters of recommendation from relevant professionals
- Reports from health professionals
- Reports from current school teachers
- Travel timetables
- Awards and recognitions
The more evidence you’re able to provide, the better.
How to Prepare for a Grammar School Appeal Hearing?
After submitting your appeals paperwork and supporting evidence, you will normally be invited to an appeal hearing in front of a panel. You will be given the names of everyone on the panel and required to inform the school if you know any of them.
Although it’s not compulsory for you to attend the hearing, being present will give you further opportunity to elaborate on your case. You should note, however, that you can’t bring any new evidence with you to the hearing.
Most grammar school hearings last around 30 minutes although there isn’t a set time in which it needs to be completed by. Each panel member should be impartial and they’ll need to follow all relevant codes of practice.
When Do I Find Out the Appeal Decision?
You’ll normally hear the outcome of your appeal a few days after your hearing – usually within the week. The appeals panel will also give you a date at your hearing. The panel’s decision is final and the admissions authority needs to follow through on the outcome unless it’s overturned in court.
If your appeal has been successful, you should receive an offer letter from the school shortly after. If the appeal has been unsuccessful, you should opt to stay on the waiting lists of the other schools your child applied to as places may become free before the new school year in September.
You can only make a grammar school appeal once every year, so it may be the case that your child will need to attend the school that they’ve been allocated for one year, before you can re-appeal the decision for entry to your first-choice.