Academic year 2019/20

Admission appeals in England

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These statistics provide information about appeals made following the refusal of a school place application.

Most appeals are made relating to an application through the annual coordinated admissions process for entry into primary or secondary school but appeals relating to other transfers at the start of the school year are included. 

The latest data covers appeals relating to admissions at the start of the 2019 to 2020 academic year. The appeals must have been lodged with the appropriate admissions authority by 1 September 2019. A comparable time series back to 2015/16 is available.

The figures detail the number of appeals lodged, heard (by an appeals panel) and successful. Appeal rates are calculated on the number of new admissions or, for successful appeals, the number heard.

The figures are provided by school phase, with primary schools split into infant and other primary classes where appropriate. The data is further divided by governance or, separately, broken down by national, regional and local authority level.

Headline facts and figures - 2019/20

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Appeals lodged

Applicants can lodge appeals for any school they have not been awarded a place in, but not all lodged appeals are heard at an appeal panel. A number are withdrawn before that point, for example because the child has been offered a place at the school via the waiting list. 

Therefore the best measure is the number of appeals which actually reach the stage of being heard by the appropriate authority, and this release focuses on these figures. 

Lodged figures are, however, provided if required. In 2019/20, 19,032 primary appeals were lodged, but only 12,465 reached the stage of being heard by an appeals panel. At secondary level, 43,299 appeals were lodged and 35,648 heard.

Appeals by school type

Appeals relating to community and voluntary controlled schools are provided as aggregated totals by local authorities. Academy, foundation and voluntary aided schools provide their own appeal figures via the school census.

There were 48,113 appeals in total in primary and secondary heard for 2019/20, or 3.1% of all new admissions. The rates by type of school varied from 3.6% for academy schools to 2.3% for community and voluntary aided schools.

There were 10,211 successful appeals for the same time period, or 21.2% of all appeals heard. The rates by school type varied from 28.5% for foundation schools to 18.8% for community and voluntary aided schools.

For 2019/20, a total of 65.2% of all appeals heard related to academy schools.

Primary appeals

Primary and infant classes

The primary level data is further split into infant (reception and years one and two) and other primary classes. There are regulations in place which require infant classes (reception and years 1 and 2) to be limited to 30 children[1] (opens in a new tab). This reduces the possibilities for appeal for these years.

The rate of appeals heard is 1.3% for infant classes and 2.7% for other primary classes. 

As expected there is a greater contrast in the success rate with 10.9% of heard infant class appeals being successful (924) compared to 34.7% of other primary classes (1,386).

One reason for the lower number of infant appeals lodged over time could be the realisation that there are more limited chances of success. 

Primary time series

The number of appeals heard has dropped since 2015/16, from 2.6% to 1.5% in 2019/20. Although we can’t know why each appeal was submitted, there were a reducing number of new admissions recorded year on year, and, separately, increases in the preference rate for applications for a primary school place[2] (opens in a new tab).

The number of successful appeals has dropped over the whole time period. However, as the number of appeals being heard has also dropped the success rate has not changed significantly.

Primary geographic variation

Figures are provided at LA level, both for infant classes, total primary appeals (including the infant appeals), and secondary classes. Because the number of appeals heard in each local authority varies widely, large differences in success rates can be driven by the results of a small number of appeals. Therefore caution should be used when comparing figures within this dataset.

By rate of appeals heard, the highest and lowest local authorities were:

  • City of London (13.3%, based on just 30 new admissions)
  • Bolton (10.5%)
  • Derby (7.9%)
  • Isles of Scilly (0.0%, only 30 admissions)
  • Rutland (0.0%)
  • Westminster (0.1%)
  • Darlington (0.1%)

The proportion of successful appeals varied widely, with the highest and lowest results being:

  • Coventry (57.5%)
  • Bath & NE Somerset (52.6%)
  • 12 local authorities upheld no appeals for 2019/20. Only five of these (Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Merton, St Helens and Hackney) heard more than 20 appeals.


[1] (opens in a new tab) The School Admissions (Infant Class Sizes) (England) Regulations 2012 prescribe certain limited circumstances in which pupils may be admitted as lawful exceptions to the infant class size limit of 30 for one-teacher classes. This means that a class of, for example, 32 pupils is lawful if two or more of those pupils have been admitted under lawful exceptions.

[2] (opens in a new tab)

Secondary appeals

 Secondary time series

At secondary level the rate of appeals heard is higher than for primary, at 4.9% in 2019/20. The proportion has increased since 2015/16, from 3.6%.

Over the same period the number of new admissions has been increasing as the higher birth rates between 2002 and 2012 feed into the secondary school system. 

The number of successful appeals has increased over the whole time period. However, because of greater rises in the number heard the proportion of appeals being successful has dropped. 

Secondary geographic variation

As at primary level caution should be taken with the local authority data, which can vary notably year on year, although the overall number of appeals is higher at secondary level.

By rate of appeals heard, the highest and lowest local authorities were:

  • Slough (21.0%)
  • Bradford (12.6%)
  • Kent (11.9%)
  • Buckinghamshire (11.7%)
  • Isles of Scilly (0.0%, only 5 admissions)
  • North Somerset (0.5%)
  • Somerset (0.9%)

The proportion of successful appeals varied widely, with the highest and lowest results being:

  • Derbyshire (60.8%)
  • Northumberland (56.2%)
  • North Lincolnshire (55.2%)
  • Hounslow (2.0%)
  • Harrow (3.9%)
  • Slough (4.2%)

Further information available

This release concentrates on the headline figures for the proportion of appeals heard and which were successful by school phase. However, the underlying data provides more information including:

  • The governance of the school being appealed by school phase
  • The number and proportion of appeals initially lodged
  • A full list of local authority and regional figures

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Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics.

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You are welcome to contact us directly with any comments about how we meet these standards. Alternatively, you can contact OSR by emailing or via the OSR website.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Admission appeals in England statistics and data:

Admission appeals statistics team

Contact name: Helen Bray

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If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone: 020 7783 8300

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If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

Telephone: 037 0000 2288

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