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Are wealthy families more likely to win school appeals?

View profile for Ellie Wright
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A recent article published by the BBC suggests that families in affluent areas of England are more likely to succeed in getting a school place on appeal.  But why is this case?

The article discusses a study that was carried out by the Education Policy Institute. The Institute examined what happened to 86,000 families who did not get their first choice secondary school place. About one in seven of those initially missing out actually went on to get a place from an appeal or waiting list. The study found that families in wealthy areas were twice more likely to get a place through an appeal or waiting lists than poorer areas.  It appears therefore that the process of appeals works in favour of “better off” families.

What is the appeals process?

If your child is refused a place at your first choice school, you can appeal the decision. The decision letter from the admission authority will advise you of your right to appeal, how you can appeal and the deadline to appeal.  The deadline will be at least 20 school days from the date of the decision letter.  You will also be given a deadline to submit all evidence in support of your appeal.

The appeal will be heard at a final Tribunal hearing.

An appeal will be upheld if the school’s admission criteria were not followed properly or the school’s admission code was not complied with. An appeal will also be upheld if your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reason for not admitting any more children at all.

Why does this process work in favour wealthy families?

It is questionable whether the results of this study do accurately reflect the current position.

It is possible that wealthier families are more likely to win at these appeals because they seek advice from specialist education law solicitors or advocates. We would certainly recommend that due to the complexity of these appeals, instructing specialist solicitors in education law would be extremely worthwhile. A specialist education law lawyer can write the appeal for you, advise you what evidence you need to gather and represent you at a final hearing. Although parents and carers are given guidance about the appeals process, the extensive knowledge and experience that specialist solicitors in education law have with the appeals process and the Tribunal itself is far more advantageous.

At HCB Solicitors, we like to think of ourselves as specialist education law solicitors that cater to all families. We are specialist solicitors in education law who believe in charging fair and manageable legal costs for our clients.  We will always be up front with our client about costs and we will always strive to agree a case prior to a final hearing taking place in order to keep costs down.

If you are struggling to secure a place at school  for your child, please do get in touch for further discussion with one of our specialist education  solicitors as to how we can assist on 0333 202 7175 or email