Parents facing longer wait for National Offer Day

Parents are facing a longer wait than usual to find out which primary school their children will be attending from September 2022. The traditional National Offer Day of April 16 falls on a Saturday this year, and the four day Easter bank holiday means the next working day is Tuesday, April 19.

This is the date that primary school allocations are communicated to parents in England and Wales and is a date that will set their children on their education journey. Parents will find out if they have secured their chosen school for their children, or if they have one of their other preferred choices.

The ‘right school’ can mean everything from staying with their little friends, a short walk rather than a longer drive, and implications for child care and parents’ working hours. Parents would have ranked their preferences back in January and have had a long wait to find out if they have been successful

What happens on Tuesday, April 19?

Parents who applied online should get an email telling them which school they have been allocated. They then have to decide whether to accept the school that has been offered, or to ask to be put on a waiting list for another school.

You must accept the offer by the deadline given in the offer letter. Otherwise it may be withdrawn and the place given to someone else.

The local council must provide a place at another school, if your child is not offered a place at any of the schools you’ve applied for. This is usually your nearest school with places still available.

Different local authorities will have different dates for waiting list requests.

In Scotland, parents don’t decide which school their children go to. Local councils allocate children to schools based on catchment areas. In Northern Ireland, parents will find out on Thursday, April 28.

How do I appeal and how successful are appeals?

The admission authority for the school must allow you at least 20 school days to appeal from when they send the decision letter, the Government says. The admission authority will set a deadline for submitting information and evidence to support your appeal.

If you submit anything after the deadline, it might not be considered and may result in delays to your hearing.

In 2021, the percentage of successful appeals for primary schools was 16.2 per cent, compared to 18.5 per cent in 2020, government figures show. Information on how to appeal will be on your council’s website.

When would the hearing be?

The admission authority must give you at least 10 school days’ notice of the hearing. Appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal.

There’s a panel of 3 or more people at the appeal hearing. The panel must be independent and must follow the school admission appeals code.

  1. The admission authority will explain why they turned down your application.

  2. You’ll be able to give your own reasons why your child should be admitted.

  3. The appeals panel must decide if the school’s admission criteria were properly followed and comply with the school admissions code.

  4. If the criteria were not properly followed or do not comply with the school admissions code your appeal must be upheld.

  5. If your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting any more children at all, your appeal will be upheld.

  6. You will usually be sent the decision within five school days.

Most appeals are made when an applicant has not received an offer, via the annual coordinated admissions process, of a place at their first preference school for entry into primary or secondary school. However, appeals relating to other transfers at the start of the school year are also included.