Eleven Plus Appeals

Not every child will be lucky enough to gain an offer of a place at their first choice school. Every year there is a proportion of very able children who due to extenuating circumstances marginally fail to perform in selective school entrance examinations to the best of their abilities. Secondly, there are children who do qualify for entry, but find that their preferred school is oversubscribed.

Girl sitting crossed legged leaning on a stack of books looking up and dreaming of the stars

Parents of these children may want to consider lodging an Appeal. This can seem daunting, especially at a time when you are emotional about the outcome and perhaps conscious of those that succeeded amongst the peer group.

The Appeals Code states that admission authorities must allow appellants at least 20 school days from the date of notification that their application was unsuccessful to prepare and lodge their written appeal.

The most significant part of the Appeal form is the Grounds of Appeal.

In order to prepare properly for an appeal, you need to be clear what issues you are addressing.

  • Is it maladministration (i.e. did the admission authority make a mistake in the admissions process as a result of which it is clear that the child has been deprived of a place to which he/she would otherwise have been entitled)?
  • Is it non-qualification?
  • Or (if score is one of the admission criteria) is it not reaching a score high enough to gain a place?
  • Or is it oversubscription?
  • Or a combination of these?

On whatever grounds you are appealing, you will want to try and compile supporting evidence and present your case coherently in the time allocated.

This whole process can be extremely stressful. Those of you who have followed the various threads on the 11 Plus Forum of this website will be aware of the regular contributions and sound advice from a very experienced former Appeal Panel member, Etienne.

Following numerous requests both directly to our offices and on the forum, we have persuaded Etienne to consolidate some of the frequently asked questions into an Appeal Question and Answer Section. This section will be periodically updated so we suggest that you bookmark it.

Disclaimer: the information and advice given here, and on the forum, represent Etienne’s own views – others might think differently, and parents must undertake their own checks, seeking legal or other independent help where necessary, and satisfy themselves before acting on any such information and advice. Appeal arrangements should be similar throughout the country, but parents must check carefully for any local variations. All procedures should comply with the law and the Department for Education (DfE) Code of Practice on Appeals.

Etienne’s Appeal Q&A

For a summary of some of the key questions and answers, start here.

A lot of useful information can also be found on the Appeals Forum.

Questions and Answers are divided up into the following sections:

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Appeals – General Points

The School Standards & Framework Act 1998 gives parents a statutory right of appeal against any decision made by or on behalf of the admission authority.

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Appeals Against Non-Qualification

This section might also be relevant if the 11+ score was one of the admission criteria, and the score achieved was not high enough to gain a place. 

uniformed kids taking exam

Appeals for an Over-Subscribed School

This section deals with the two-stage process where the appeal panel considers the admission authority’s case that further admissions will cause prejudice, and the appellant’s reasons for wanting a place.

family with a lawyer

Complaints to the Ombudsman or ESFA

For a complaint to be successful, there needs to have been a procedural error – usually non-compliance with the Appeals Code.

Mum helping daughter prepare

Appeals – Miscellaneous

Specific appeal examples from previous years across 11+ regions.

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Appeals – Abbreviations

Key abbreviations for terms used throughout the Eleven Plus Appeals process.