Your child didn't get a place at your preferred school
The Education Authority (EA) will send you a placement letter offering your child a school place. You'll also get information about how to appeal the decision and the closing date for appeals.
If your child doesn't get a place in one of your preferred schools, the EA will tell you which schools have places available.
Appealing a school's decision
You can appeal a decision about a pre-school, primary or post-primary school place if you think the school didn't apply or correctly apply its published admissions criteria.
The placement letter will explain your right to appeal the school's decision.
How to access an appeal form
To appeal a school's decision that has refused your child a place, go to the EA website where you can download the appeal form (AT1 Form). There are different deadlines to appeal decisions about places in:
- a nursery school/unit
- a primary school
- a post-primary school
- a 14+ (The Dickson Plan) school
Independent Admissions Appeal tribunal
When you appeal a school's decision to refuse your child a place, an Independent Admissions Appeal tribunal decides if the school has correctly applied its admissions criteria.
What the tribunal considers
The tribunal considers the evidence available to the school's board of governors when they offered school places to children. The tribunal cannot take into account any additional information that wasn't available to the board of governors when they offered places. The tribunal doesn't challenge a school's admissions criteria.
The tribunal can only uphold an appeal if:
- they find the school didn't apply or didn't apply correctly its admissions criteria
- they find the school would have offered the child a place if it had applied its admissions criteria correctly
When your appeal will be heard
The EA will tell you when your appeal will be heard.
The appeal decision
The tribunal's decision is legally binding on you and the school.
They will write and tell you their decision by post. If your appeal is successful, the school will offer your child a place.
Appeal process for post-primary schools only
The Exceptional Circumstances Body (ECB) processes applications from parents/guardians for admissions to post-primary school (years 8-12 only) where it is claimed that a child must be at a particular school but an application made through the normal admissions process has failed.
There is no deadline for applications to the ECB.
If you think that your child has an exceptional need for admission to a particular post-primary school, then the 'exceptional circumstances' process can help you with this, as long as you can show that you have already applied to that post-primary school for admission, and your child was not admitted.
About 'exceptional circumstances'
When considering an application, the ECB will focus on the following three tests that are considered under the 'exceptional circumstances' process:
- are the circumstances that are claimed exceptional?
- are the circumstances that are claimed 'personal to the child'?
- do the circumstances that are claimed require the child’s admission to the named school, and only that school?
A case for admission under the exceptional circumstances process will exist only where the ECB can answer ‘yes’ to all three questions.
Circumstances that aren't exceptional
The ECB may not find the following circumstances exceptional:
- type of education provided at a school
- a child’s academic ability
- availability of transport to a school
To read more information about applying to the ECB, go to:
You can also contact the Exceptional Circumstances Body Secretariat.
Applying to the ECB
To send an application to the ECB, there are two options you can use:
- download a copy of the application form and complete using a black ballpoint pen
- save a copy of the application and complete by typing in the spaces available
As you must sign the form and provide supporting evidence, the ECB will not accept applications sent by email. Hand delivered applications will not be accepted.