Thousands of UK parents apply for their child’s school place offer – but only one in five make it through

More than 40,000 parents appealed for their child’s school place offer – but only one in five were successful. There were 41,110 appeals heard in England for places for September 2020 from parents who were unhappy with what they had been offered.

Of those heard, only 19% went in favor of the parent. Most calls are likely to be for offers made on National Offer Days for entry to Reception and Year 7, although some are for children transferring to another school.

Today (March 1) is when offers of secondary school places are sent out in England, with offers for primary schools being sent out on April 18. Applicants can appeal any school they didn’t get a place at, but not all appeals reach the stage of being heard by a college — some, for example, are withdrawn.

The heard rate is therefore a better measure of the general call rate. The number of appeals lodged and heard has fallen in England – and they are less likely to succeed.

There were 11,239 appeals heard relating to main squares from September 2020 in England. This compares with 12,465 the previous year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Education.

The number rose from 22,820 in 2015. Across England, 1,823 appeals were in favor of parents, a success rate of 16%. This is the lowest proportion since the figures began in 2015.

Parents in Redcar and Cleveland were the most likely to pass – all three appeals heard for September 2020 were accepted. This was followed by Milton Keynes, where 21 out of 28 succeeded.

In 14 areas, none of the appeals heard were successful. This included Ealing where 49 were heard from, 37 in North Tyneside and 31 in Brighton and Hove. At the secondary level, 29,871 appeals were heard concerning places for September 2020.

That was down from 35,648 the previous year, although the numbers are still up from 22,964 in 2015 and 25,290 in 2016.
The success rate was 20%, with 6,000 accepted. This is down from 22% for housing starts calls in September 2019, and the lowest level recorded in the time series, which dates back to 2004.

Parents in Rutland were the most likely to pass their appeal, with seven out of 12 accepted, followed by 52 out of 111 in Durham. Hartlepool was the only place where no secondary school appeals went through, with 19 rejections. It was the only place where no calls went through, as 15 primary calls also failed.