Secondary school places for September 2022 were announced this month. It’s an exciting time for children and parents alike, but it can be a time of anxiety too. That’s especially true if your child didn’t get a  place at their preferred school.

This article explains what national offer day is, and outlines some of the steps parents can take if they and their child aren’t happy with the placement offered.

What happens on National Offer Day?

The schools you listed in your application will each decide whether they can offer your child a place.

The local authority then considers these offers alongside your preferences, and  everyone else’s.

Then, on National Offer Day, you’ll get a single offer of a secondary school.

Your offer will be the highest preference school on your list that can give your child a place. If none of your preferences can offer your child a place (because, for example, too many other children are higher up on the oversubscription criteria) you’ll be offered an alternative school.

This is likely to be the nearest school with places still available. Usually there will be a form to fill in to confirm that you accept the school offered. 

What can parents do if their child does not get their preferred secondary school?

The first thing is not to panic. Start by looking closely at the school your child has been given a place for – book a visit, talk to the staff, and talk to other parents whose children attend the school. You may find that you are pleasantly surprised by what you find.

If you’re still unhappy with the school offered, you can challenge it through an appeal with the admission authority. This will usually be the council or the school itself (depending on whether it is an academy).

If you think there are good reasons why your child should go to a particular secondary school, even one that’s already full, then you need to construct the case for your appeal. The Good Schools Guide suggests that there are two key grounds for making a successful appeal:

1. When a school has applied its admissions procedures incorrectly.

2. When the harm done to your child by not getting a place there will be greater than that caused to all the other children by overcrowding.

We suggest the following process when you’re preparing to appeal:

  • Find out who to appeal to – the type of school will determine who will consider your appeal, this could be the academy trust, local authorities, or governing body.
  • Check the admissions policy of the school. Each admission authority or independent school must publish their admissions policy in the case where a school is oversubscribed setting out which criteria must be met and in what priority. You can usually refer to the school or local authority website to view this information.
  •  Find out the published admission number of the school.
  • Review the school’s oversubscription policy and check that it has been applied correctly.
  • You may also want to check the School Admissions code of Practice 2014, School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 and relevant parts of the School’s Standards and Framework Act 1998.
  • Gather evidence that supports any medical, social, or other exceptional circumstances that you want to include in the appeal.
  • Check the appeals deadline and make sure you apply in writing before the cut-off date.

What is the appeal process like?

We should warn you that the appeal process can be lengthy. Appeal hearings will normally take place between eight and 12 weeks after National Offer Day, but in some cases, they don’t happen until June or July. That could mean an anxious wait, and it doesn’t leave you much time to consider alternative plans if the appeal is unsuccessful.

Consider whether you would like to take someone to assist or represent you at the appeal hearing. Remember, as a parent, you’re entitled to be represented at an appeal by a friend or lawyer. If you decide on legal representation, it is a good idea to seek help as soon as possible. That’s because legal representatives can quickly become fully booked at this time of year.

What else can I do?

Keep your child on the waiting list for any schools you originally applied for; sometimes there is quite a bit of movement before September.

You can also accept the school place offered, even if you aren’t totally happy with it. Your appeal will still be processed in the same way  and doing this will ensure that your child at least has a guaranteed school place for September if all other options fail.

If you don’t feel that you can accept the offered place, you could always contact a private tutor. They can work with your child at at home until a suitable school placement is found for your child.

George Alexander Tuition is a specialist maths and science tuition agency based in Central London. We support children aged 11-18 with a variety of homelearning packages and exam coaching. We also provide coaching for the UCAT assessment. To find out more, contact us on You can also follow our social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook, and check out our handy maths tutorials on our YouTube channel



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