Detailed guidance on school admission appeals

5. Infant class size law appeals

This page will help you understand the law if you appealing for a school place in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2, and the rules limiting infant class sizes to 30 pupils with a single teacher apply. It will help you decide what points and information to include in your appeal.

What is the infant class size limit?

The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (SSFA 1998) limits the size of an infant class to 30 pupils with a single school teacher. Where an application has been turned down on these grounds, parents still have a right of appeal, but the grounds upon which the appeal can be upheld by a Panel are very limited.

  • Because of these limitations two appeals where the infant class size restrictions applied, out of 101 lodged, were successful last year (for the September 2019 intake).

How does the infant class size limit affect how the Panel will consider my appeal?

Where an application has been turned down because of the infant class size limit, Appeal Panels may only uphold an appeal where:

  1. it finds that the admission of additional children would not breach the infant class size limit, or
  2. it finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with admissions law or were not correctly and impartially applied and the child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had complied or had been correctly and impartially applied, or
  3. it decides that the decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

Further information about how decisions are made on infant class size law appeals

In multiple appeals (this is when there is more than one appeal for the same school and year group), where a number of children would have been offered a place under the paragraph above, and to admit that number would seriously prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources, the panel must proceed to a second stage.

Second stage – comparing cases

The panel must compare each appellant’s case for their child to be admitted and decide which of them, if any, to uphold. Where the school could admit a certain number of children without breaching the infant class size limit (or without needing to take measures to avoid breaching it that would prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources) the panel must uphold the appeals of at least that number of children.

Consideration of ‘reasonableness’

The threshold for finding that an admission authority’s decision to refuse admission was not one that a reasonable authority would have made is high. The panel will need to be satisfied that the decision to refuse to admit the child was ‘perverse in the light of the admission arrangements’ i.e. it was ‘beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker’ or ‘a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it’.


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