Appealing a school place decision
There are two ways in which you can appeal against a decision not to admit your child to your preferred post-primary school.
How to appeal
You can apply to an education and library board (ELB) if you believe that the school’s admissions criteria were not applied correctly.
You can also apply to the Exceptional Circumstances Body (ECB) if you consider exceptional circumstances exist which require your child to attend a specific post-primary school. You may use one or both appeal routes.
Not offered a place at your preferred school?
Details of how to make an appeal will be spelled out in the letter from the education and library board’s offering your child a school place. It will also tell you the deadline that you must meet if you want to appeal.
If your child has not been given a place at one of your preferred schools, the ELB will let you know which schools have places available.
If you are unhappy about how you have been dealt with, you can put your case to an independent appeal panel. You can only appeal if you are of the opinion that a school has not, or has not correctly, applied its published admissions criteria.
When will your appeal be heard?
Your ELB will inform you of when your appeal will be heard.
- Belfast Education and Library Board (contacts section)
- Southern Education and Library Board (contacts section)
- North Eastern Education and Library Board (contacts section)
- Western Education and Library Board (contacts section)
- South Eastern Education and Library Board (contacts section)
The panel's decision is legally binding - both on you and the school.
It will let you and the school know by post. If your appeal is successful, your child will be offered a place at that school.
Complaining about the appeals process
If you're unhappy about the way the appeal process was carried out, you can complain to the Northern Ireland Ombudsman.
The Exceptional Circumstances Body
You can make an application to the Exceptional Circumstances Body (ECB) in situations where your child has not been admitted to the school you consider that, for exceptional reasons, he/she must attend. This facility is available only in respect of admissions to post-primary schools (Years 8-12). There is no deadline for applications to the ECB.
A claim of exceptional circumstances can only be considered after you have applied to the post-primary school through the normal admissions process and been refused a place.
Claims for exceptional circumstances can be considered at the same time, though separately, from admissions appeals.
Advice about how to obtain detailed information about the Exceptional Circumstances process, including how to apply to have your case considered, will be included in the Placement Letter issued to you towards the end of May 2013.
Please read the information leaflet below before submitting an application to the ECB. If you require further information please contact the Exceptional Circumstances Body Secretariat on telephone number: 028 9127 9871.
- Exceptional Circumstances Body information leaflet (PDF 375KB)
- Exceptional Circumstances Body application form (PDF 484KB)
- Help with pdf files
The Body is required to present the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education with an annual report describing its activity. Annual reports for 2010/11 and 2011/12 are available on the Department of Education website.