We will let you know when we receive your appeal and we will send a copy to the person who will represent the admission authority at the appeal.
We will then arrange for the appeal panel to consider the appeal.
The appeal panel will usually hear all appeals for the same school together.
For admissions and transfers in September the appeal hearings are scheduled to take place between April and the end of July
For admissions at other times of the year the appeal hearings take place as soon as we can arrange them, within 30 school days of receiving the appeal form.
View the admissions appeal timetable.
You are normally given at least 10 school days' notice of the appeal hearing, unless you agree to a shorter notice period, for example, when it's close to the beginning of the school year.
Before the hearing you will be provided with a written statement detailing the reasons why it's not been possible to allow your child to attend your preferred school.
Where the appeals are heard
Appeals are normally heard at County Hall, Colliton Park, Dorchester
We may use other venues sometimes, mostly for appeals for admissions and transfers in September.
Can I attend the hearing?
You should attend the hearing if possible. It's very helpful for the members of the appeal panel to hear first-hand why you want your child to attend a particular school.
You can bring someone along to accompany or represent you. They can be a friend, adviser, interpreter or signer who may speak on your behalf at the hearing.
You need to make sure your choice of person to accompany you won't lead to a conflict of interest.
You must make sure you inform the appeals team before the hearing if you plan to be represented or be accompanied by someone. This is so that the appeals panel is aware of who will be attending the hearing.
Let the appeals team know as soon as possible if you have any special requirements for the school admission hearing, for example, you need:
a translator - let us know which language
information in large print or another format
a British Sign Language interpreter
If you can't attend your appeal, it will still be heard in your absence and a decision will be reached based on the written information that's available to the appeal panel.
Inform the appeals team before the date of your appeal hearing if you are not planning to attend.
If you do not attend your appeal hearing without informing the appeals team beforehand, your appeal will still go ahead and will be decided on the written information submitted.
Who else is present at the hearing?
A presenting officer will put forward the case relating to the reasons why your child did not get a place.
For the majority of schools in Dorset, this will be an officer from our school admissions team, although in some cases it will be the head teacher and/or governor of the school in question.
A clerk to the appeal panel is at the hearing. The clerk's role is to take notes and to provide advice and guidance about the procedures and arrangements. The clerk does not have any say in the decision about your case, but stays with the appeal panel members while they make their decision.
You won't be alone with the members of the appeal panel at any time and neither will the presenting officer. The only exception to this is if you decide not to attend the appeal hearing. If this happens, the presenting officer still has to attend the hearing to present the case.
Who are the members of the appeal panel?
The appeal panel is independent of the admission authority. This means they do not have anything to do with Dorset Council. There are 3 members that include:
- at least one person who has no personal experience in the management of any school, or in providing education in any school (other than as a school governor or any other voluntary role) they are called a 'lay member'
- at least one person with experience in education who is familiar with educational conditions in Dorset, or is the parent of a pupil registered at a school
A member can't hear your appeal if they:
Neither Elected Members (Councillors) nor Officers employed by Dorset Council are eligible to sit as appeal panel members. Officers may provide evidence for or on behalf of the Admission Authority, or indeed the appellant, depending on their role.
What happens at the appeal hearing
The chairman welcomes you to the hearing and introduces the members of the appeal panel and anyone else there. The chairman explains the procedure they will follow.
The appeal panel members will have read the information about the appeal. The members have these documents with them at the hearing so that they can refer to them during the hearing.
Most appeal panel hearings follow this two-stage process:
At this stage the admission authority must satisfy the appeal panel that the school's published admission arrangements:
- have complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and part 3 of the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998
- have been correctly and impartially applied in your case
- show that your child's admission to the school would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources
The presenting officer presents the case to:
- the appeal panel
- any other parents appealing for a place at the same school
The members of the appeal panel, you and any other parents can ask questions of the presenting officer, or complain officially about the admission authorities case.
You, the presenting officer and anyone else appealing will have to leave the room so that the members of the appeal panel can decide:
- whether the authority has followed the published admission arrangements correctly
- that they were correctly and impartially applied
- that additional admissions to the school would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources
If the authority does satisfy the appeal panel at Stage 1, the panel then has to consider:
- the reasons why you wish your child to attend the school
- balancing these reasons against the authorities case
- their decision as to which should win
You will be asked to come back to put forward your own case. There may be personal circumstances which outweigh the fact that the year group is full.
Where 2 or more appeals are being decided at the same time for the same school, the panel will consider each appeal individually. Your own personal appeal will be heard privately without any other parents present.
The panel and the presenting officer may question you on what you've said about your personal circumstances and the reasons you've given for wishing your child to be admitted.
Both you and the presenting officer will be asked to summarise your cases and then to leave the room. The panel then make their decision.
At this second stage of the appeal hearing, all parents appealing for the preferred school must have the chance to present their case before any final decisions are made.
The appeal panel will give careful consideration to:
- the reasons you've given
- the authorities published admission arrangements
- the way the admission arrangements have been applied
The panel will consider the consequences for the school and the authority. The panel must balance these conflicting factors and reach a decision.
There is a separate appeals process for reception, years 1 and 2. That process can be found in infant class appeals.