The anxious wait is nearly over. It’s National Offer Day for secondary schools on Tuesday, March 1, when all 11-year-olds across England will receive their secondary school place. But, what happens if you don’t get the place you wanted? Here’s all your questions answered…
What happens on National Offer Day?
National Offer Day 2022 for secondary schools is on Tuesday, March 1. Your local authority will notify you by email to let you know which school place you’ve been offered. You can also find out through the Local Authority’s (LA) online education portal. Your offer will be the highest preference school on your list that can give your child a place
If you do not receive an email on offer day, check your junk folder.
I’ve been offered my first choice of school
Great news! Usually, you will need to complete a form to confirm that you accept the school place offered. Then simply wait for the school to be in touch with a welcome pack over the summer term.
Help! I’ve not been offered my first choice of school
Firstly, don’t panic as you have several options.
Mike Pemberton, a specialist in education law at national law firm Stephensons, has the following advice for parents.
“If a child or parent has their heart set on one particular school, it can be a massive disappointment when things don’t go to plan. Once you’ve had a chance to process the decision, it’s important to remember that you may have grounds to appeal. The deadline for appeals is at least 20 school days from March 1, with the exact deadlines often published on the admission authority’s website.
“Importantly, you should accept the school place offered to your child despite it not being your first choice. If you don’t accept, your child could be left without a school. Remember, you can always withdraw at a later point if you are successful in your appeal.
“You may also want to take some time to consider the school offered to you and whether it meets your child’s needs. Is travel to and from school feasible? Are any of your child’s friends going there? Is your child happy with the offer?”
You then have four options to consider.
- You can accept the place.
- If your child has not been offered a place at your preferred schools, their name will automatically be placed on the waiting lists for of all schools that were ranked higher than the school offered in your application.
- You can apply for other schools not on your original list.
- If you’re unhappy with the offer you’ve received, you can make an appeal.
I plan to appeal the decision – what happens next?
You have a legal right to appeal to any of the schools on your original application.
The local authority must give you at least 10 school days’ notice of the appeals hearing, and this must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal. There will be a panel of three or more people at an appeal hearing, where the local authority will explain why they turned down your application. You’ll then be given the opportunity to explain why your child should be admitted to your chosen school.
If the school’s admission criteria were not properly followed and/or your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting any more children, your appeal will be upheld.
You will be notified of the appeal hearing’s decision within five days.
Mike Pemberton advises:
“If parents do decide to appeal it’s very important to do some research and gather information together to provide the best chances of success.
“Find out who you need to appeal to, often the type of school will determine this. Take some time to check the admissions policy of the school and ensure that it has followed the policy correctly.
“You may need to gather evidence to support any claims you are making about prejudice or special conditions (such as social, medical or welfare related) you intend to rely on. Also, make sure that you submit your appeal in good time. Whilst it is possible to lodge an appeal after the deadline, it will only be considered after the ones that were made in time, meaning that it is less likely that a placement may be offered.
“Finally, consider whether you need assistance or representation at the appeal hearing? As a parent you are entitled to be represented by a friend or a lawyer.”
I want to stay on the waiting list for my preferred school
Your position on this list will depend on the school admissions policy and, if a place becomes available, the child who’s first on the waiting list will be offered the place. Remember that there is often quite a bit of movement before September, so places do become available.
Priority is not given to children based on the date their application was received or their name was added to the waiting list.
You can check your child’s position on a waiting list on the LA’s education portal.
I’ve made alternative arrangements and don’t need a school place
If you have accepted a place for your child at an independent fee-paying school, moved areas, or opted for home education, then you can decline the offer of a school place. You must inform the local authority of your decision and confirm which school your child will be going to in September.
Applying to a UK independent school? Start your search here.
I’ve just moved to the area and missed the application deadline
If you missed the application deadline because you have only just moved to the area, your application will be considered in the second allocation round of secondary school places. This includes all children on waiting lists and new applications received between January 1 and March 15, 2022.