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This is a Fact sheet about School Admissions and Appeals complaints. It should be read together with our ‘How to Complain’ webpage, available on the ‘Making A Complaint’ tab.

Complaints about school admissions should be brought to the attention of the relevant Local Education Authority (LEA) first, but complaints about admission appeals can be brought straight to the Ombudsman.


What the Ombudsman can do

He can:

  • Look at complaints about school admissions procedures in Wales and the admissions appeals process;
  • Look at complaints from parents who consider an LEA has implemented its school admissions procedure unfairly;
  • Look at complaints from parents who consider an Admissions Appeal Panel has acted improperly.

If you wish to complain to the Ombudsman, please do so as soon as possible.


What the Ombudsman cannot do

He cannot:

  • Compel an LEA to offer your child a place at a school;
  • Overturn the decision of an Admissions Appeal Panel – however, if he believes the Panel hearing was improper or unfair, he may recommend that the appeal should be heard by a new Panel;
  • Look into admissions or appeals involving Independent schools.


Issues to bear in mind
  • A child does not have an absolute right to a place at their parents’ preferred school;
  • LEAs must use their ‘over-subscription criteria’ to prioritise applications when there are more applications than places available at a school. Generally speaking, there can be no more than 30 children in an infants’ class;
  • Appeal panels are independent of the LEA and hear the cases of both the LEA and the parents;
  • Appeal panels have to decide whether the parents’ reasons for preferring the particular school outweigh the prejudice caused to the school if it admitted their child.


Further information

LEAs and Admission Appeal Panels must have regard to the Statutory Codes on School Admissions and Appeals. Copies may be downloaded from the Welsh Government

The Ombudsman is independent and impartial; he cannot order public bodies to do what he recommends – but, in practice, they almost always do. Examples of cases that the Ombudsman has looked at can be found on our website, on the ‘Publications’ tab under ‘Our Findings’ & ‘The Ombudsman’s Casebook’.


Contact us

If you are unsure whether the Ombudsman would be able to look into your complaint, please contact us.

Also available in Welsh.