What to do if your child misses out on their preferred choice of primary school in West Sussex

Parents in West Sussex will soon be finding out whether their child has been given a place at one of their preferred choices of primary school.

All children born between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015 are eligible for a September school place and will find out which school they have been allocated on Tuesday (April 16).

However, if your child does not get into the school you wanted there is an appeals process.

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Here is a step-by-step guide of what to do:

Parents will be able to find out on Tuesday, April 16

- Top of your list should be to accept the place you’ve been offered. You may well be able to track down an alternative over the next month, but if the initial offer is not accepted, there’s a chance that your child won’t have any school to attend come September.

- So you’ve accepted the place. Now write down the schools you would have preferred and attempt to get onto their waiting lists. This can even be schools to which you did not originally apply. There is a big shake up between now and the beginning of the new academic year and some places are bound to materialise.

- Have a closer look at the school you’ve been allocated. There’s a chance that you have been making a judgement based on out of date information. When was the most recent OFSTED inspection and have things improved since? Perhaps the local reputation of the school is based on a previous headteacher or board of governors and is now unjustified. Go to the school gates at pick-up time and talk to parents with children already at the school.

- Try not to let on to your child how much you hate the school at which they’ve been given a place. If you’re negative about the school but then fail to find another one, your child may start at the new school feeling they’re starting a five year sentence.

- If you feel you have no choice but to appeal, you must remember that you can only appeal to the schools to which you previously applied. Each school will require a separate appeal. The grounds for a legitimate appeal will be published on your local authority website: the bar for success is very high. You’ll need to prove a mistake was made when the admissions process was carried out, that the admissions policy is unlawful or that no reasonable person would come to that admissions decision. ‘Reasonable’ is used in the legal sense. This entails proving the negative impact on the school caused by going over numbers is out-weighed by the potential disadvantage to your child, and that only this particular school can meet their needs.

To find out how to appeal, visit the West Sussex County Council link here.