Secondary school admissions 2022: when is national offer day this year - and how to appeal your child’s offer

Parents in England and Wales are finding out which secondary school their children will be attending later this year

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Secondary school admissions, also known as national offer day, will see hundreds of thousands of parents find out what school their children will be attending later this year.

On Tuesday 1 March 2022, parents will receive a letter from their local council to see whether their children have been accepted to their first choice secondary school.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

What is the process for secondary school applications?

Applications for secondary schools are taken through your local council online or via a paper form.

Applications must go through your local council even if you’re applying for schools in another area.

GOV.UK has an online form that helps navigate through the application.

In 2021, the application period started on 1 September and the closing dates were 31 October.

To ensure that your children have the optimal chances of getting into their desired school, it’s vital to read through the forms thoroughly and to understand what information is exactly required.

Parents wanting to send their children to Grammar School need to be wary of the Grammar School Test which took place on 11 September 2021.

Results of these tests were revealed before the deadline of 31 October.

For faith-based schools, applications need to be made to the individual school and parents may need to register for entrance tests.

To see whether your child got into their first place secondary school, whether grammar or not, parents must wait for national offer day on 1 March 2022.

How do schools decide who gets in?

Admission criteria differ for each school which is usually set by the school or local authority.

For some schools priority may be given if:

  • they live close to the school
  • who have a sibling at the school already 
  • are from a particular religion (for faith schools)
  • if they pass an entrance exam 
  • if they went to a feeder primary school 
  • if they are eligible for the pupil premium or the service public premium
  • if parents have worked at the school for 2 or more years

When do we find out secondary school places in England?

Across England and Wales, year 6 children will discover what school they will be attending later in the year on 1 March 2022.

If parents provided an email address, offers will be emailed over. For those without an email address, offers will be posted in second class, on March 1 2022.

If applications have been made online, then offers can be viewed online on this date.

No decisions are given through the phone, and all councils nationwide make their offers on the same day.

How do I appeal my child’s offer if the school is not suitable?

If your child does not get a place at one of your chosen schools, you can appeal the decision.

Information on how to do this will be available with the letter received on 1 March.

The admission authority for the school should allow 20 school days to appeal from when the letter has been sent.

Leading Law firm Stephensons is giving parents advice on how to appeal against a decision if they don’t get their first choice.

Mike Pemberton, a partner specialising in education law, set out a 9 step plan for parents:

  1. Find out who to appeal to – the type of school will determine who will consider your appeal which could be the academy trust or local authorities or governing body.
  2. Check the admissions policy of the school - check the school or local authority website to view this and ensure that the correct policy has been followed and applied.
  3. Find out the published admission number of the school. This may be provided within the admission policy or will be available by making enquiries with the admission authority.
  4. Look at the oversubscription policy of the school. Has it been applied correctly?
  5. You may also want to check the School Admissions Code of Practice 2014, School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 and relevant parts of the School’s Standards and Framework Act 1998.
  6. Gather evidence supporting any medical social or other exceptional circumstances you wish to rely upon.
  7. An appeal must be made in writing so make sure you do this in good time. Whilst it is possible to appeal after the time period this may cause delays and practically, in time appeals will be considered first and result in there is even less possibility of a place being offered on appeal. Also allow time to seek advice on grounds to appeal if you need assistance.
  8. Consider whether you will need assistance or representation at the appeal hearing. As a parent, you’re entitled to be represented at appeal by a friend or lawyer. If you decide on legal representation, it is a good idea to seek help as soon as possible – it can get busy at this time of year.
  9. Once an appeal is lodged it must be heard within 40 school days of the appeals deadline

The deadline for submitting appeals is 29 March 2022, and the appeal hearings are May and June 2022.

What happens at an appeal hearing?

An appeal panel of between three to five members of the public will assess the case.

At the hearing, the panel will reveal why your application was turned down.

They will check that the arrangements comply with the Schools’ Admissions Code.

After, you will be invited to say why you are appealing against the decision.

With written evidence, you will need to ask why you think your chosen school is the best for your child and if there are any special circumstances supporting your application.

Once the appeal is heard, the panel will decide whether the school case or your case is stronger and you will receive the legally binding results by post within seven days.

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