Schools Adjudicator: make an objection, appeal or referral

Forms and guidance for objecting to a school's admission arrangements; how schools can appeal against local authority decisions.

Applies to England


The admission authority for local-authority-maintained schools is the local authority where the school is located for community and voluntary controlled schools and the governing body for foundation and voluntary aided schools. For academies, the admission authority is the academy trust.

Objections to and referrals about determined school admission arrangements

You can make an objection to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) if you think that the admissions arrangements of a local-authority-maintained school or an academy do not comply with the ‘School Admissions Code’ (the Code) or other legislation relating to school admissions. Certain exceptions apply as set out in paragraph 3.3 of the Code.

Deadline for objections

All admissions authorities must determine their admission arrangements by 28 February every year, even if they have not changed from previous years and a consultation has not been required. You have until 15 May to contact the adjudicator if you have an objection.

If you wish to make an objection complete the ‘school admission arrangements objection form’.

Admission arrangements can also be referred to the adjudicator who may decide to consider whether or not they comply with admissions law and the Code and make a determination.

In-year variations to school admission arrangements

Once admission arrangements have been determined for a particular academic year, they cannot be revised by the admission authority unless to give effect to:

  • a mandatory requirement of the Code
  • admissions law
  • a determination of the adjudicator
  • any misprint in the admission arrangements

Admission authorities may propose other variations where they consider such changes to be necessary in view of a major change in circumstances. Such proposals must be referred to the adjudicator for approval, and the appropriate bodies notified.

State-funded local-authority-maintained schools wishing to apply for a variation to admission arrangements in view of a major change in circumstances should complete the ‘in-year variation application form’. Academy schools of all types proposing to vary admission arrangements should contact the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Referrals of the intention of a local authority to direct a school to admit a particular child

A local authority has the power to direct the admission authority for a local-authority-maintained school in its area for which it is not the admission authority to admit a child even when the school is full. The local authority can only make a direction in respect of a child who has been refused entry to, or has been permanently excluded from, every suitable school within a reasonable distance.

A local authority also has the power to direct a local-authority-maintained school for which it is not the admission authority in any part of England to admit a looked-after child. The local authority cannot make such a direction in respect of a school from which the child has been permanently excluded.

Before deciding to give a direction, a local authority must consult the governing body of the school, the parent of the child and the child if they are over compulsory school age. If, following consultation, the local authority decides to direct, it must inform the governing body and headteacher of the school of its intention to direct. The governing body can appeal the intention to direct the school to admit the child to the OSA within:

  • 7 days for a looked-after child
  • 15 days for a hard-to-place child

Please note that these timescales are actual days, not working days, and include weekends, bank holidays and school holidays.

If you wish to appeal against a direction to admit a child please contact the OSA at

Disputes relating to school organisation proposals

An adjudicator is the decision maker in certain specific circumstances:

  • the closing of a community infant and junior school and the establishment of a new community primary school
  • an appeal by the governing body, trustees, Roman Catholic Diocese or Church of England Diocese to a decision made by a local authority within 4 weeks of the decision being made
  • where a local authority has failed to make a decision on a proposal within 2 months of the end of the representation period
  • where a local authority refers the proposal for a school changing its status to become a foundation school and/or a foundation school acquiring a foundation (commonly known as a trust school)

The Department for Education has produced a ‘School organisation’ statutory guidance publication.

If you wish to make a referral please email the relevant documents as set out in the guidance to OSA.


Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA)


Disputes on the transfer and disposal of non-playing field land and assets

The adjudicator can make decisions on what can happen to school land in certain circumstances, for example:

  • where a school or local authority proposes to dispose of school land not designated as a playing field;
  • where a school is no longer using a piece of land which the local authority wishes to use;
  • where a local authority wishes to dispose of land belonging to a voluntary aided school. Local authorities and governing bodies that are considering referring a proposal to the adjudicator for a decision on land issues must seek their own legal advice before referring the matter to the adjudicator. Contact details:


Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA)


Announcing the decision

When the adjudicator has made a decision, we send a copy of the decision to all parties involved by post or email.

All decisions made by the schools adjudicator are published on GOV.UK with the exception of decisions on appeals to direct the admission of a particular pupil.

Challenging the decision

Once an adjudicator’s decision has been made it is final and binding on all parties. There is no appeals process. It can only be challenged by applying to the High Court for Judicial Review. Appeals must be made within 3 months of the decision date, and you should seek your own legal advice before considering taking this action.

Published 26 June 2014
Last updated 9 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated with the new email address for the OSA (

  2. Updated information on referrals of local authorities to directing a school to admit a particular child.

  3. Updated dates under the 'Deadline for objections' heading.

  4. First published.