Education law

School admission and exclusion appeals

Unhappy and isolated school child. School admission and exclusion appeals

Introduction and overview

Children secure and maintain places at their parents’ preferred school as a result of our legal advice and support. We understand it can be deeply disappointing on National Offer Day to find that your child has missed out on their first choice school. Understanding the law underpinning school admissions and the mechanics of a persuasive school admission appeal is key to securing the successful result you want.

Suspension and exclusion from school whether that is formal or informal, such as off-rolling and reduced timetables, are devastating for your child and family. Eroding a child’s self-esteem, mental health and self-efficacy as a learner, exclusion can adversely impact their future life chances. Understanding a school’s legal obligations to your child, leading up to and following suspension or exclusion, is key to successfully overturning unlawful and unreasonable decision making by head teachers and securing reinstatement. 

How our education law solicitors can help you

Key services offered

We are trusted allies of minoritised communities. We have a particular understanding of intersectionality and the challenges faced by children and young people facing challenges associated with the individual and/or cumulative effect of race, disability and being transgender. We are concerned by discriminatory approaches to admission and disproportionate rates of exclusion from school which are often unlawful and require robust challenge. 

We can help you with:


  • co-ordinated admission application process including involving social and medical reasons
  • in-year admission applications
  • allegations of ‘addresses of convenience’
  • exam access arrangements for 11+ and other admission assessments
  • drafting and progress admissions appeals at conventional entry points including group appeals
  • in-year admission appeals
  • liaising with the admission authority and appeals clerk
  • non-qualification appeals for grammar schools including ‘super selectives’
  • representation at admission appeal hearings
  • instruction of experts where appropriate and other evidence gathering
  • subject access requests 


  • written representation for Headteacher’s review following suspension or permanent exclusion
  • drafting written submissions, progressing and representation at School Governor’s Review
  • drafting grounds of appeal, progressing and representation at appeal to Independent Review Panel
  • obtaining witness statements and other evidence gathering
  • subject access request
  • Judicial Review following refusal to reinstate
  • challenging unlawful informal exclusions such as ‘off rolling’, reduced timetables and isolations
  • securing interim education pending reinstatement to school based education
  • securing reasonable adjustments to disciplinary processes
  • Disability Discrimination claims under the Equality Act 2010

Why choose Russell-Cooke for school admission and exclusion appeals?

About our education law team

Our expert education solicitors bring technical excellence and a wealth of experience of successful admission and exclusion appeals as well as use of disability discrimination and judicial review where needed. We are particularly well known for running appeals with novel technical arguments or involving complex social and medical reasons. We have a particularly strong track record of successfully challenging exclusion decisions involving discrimination.

Our highly specialist team of education lawyers uses a solution focused and robust approach to secure and retain school places.  We are particularly well known for our work for disabled children both in securing school places and protecting them from harm including from exclusion. We are able to use legal tools beyond admission and exclusion appeals such as Equality Act Claims and Judicial Review and draw upon cross departmental expertise where issues of Breach of Contract and Negligence arise. 

Testimonials and legal directory quotes

Our experts are all ranked in Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 legal directories. Here are some comments made about us. 

"Congratulations you did it!! Cannot believe it, thank you so much!! Again this is the first time anyone has successfully appealed the decision of the headmaster" 
Russell-Cooke client

"We're not going to question why, Just happy we don't have to go through the uncertainty of an appeal. Thank you again for your support". 
Russell-Cooke client


Russell-Cooke gave a clear insight into the system and used legal expertise to put the client at the centre of the work.
Chambers UK (2024)

Charging information

Detailed costs information is provided at the outset. Charges are based on our hourly rates plus administrative charges and disbursements. Regular costs updates are provided including in the event of your requirements or circumstances of the work changing.

The current range of hourly rates for members of the team is from £180 plus VAT to £400 plus VAT per hour.

We do not advise on a legal aid or ‘no win no fee’ type basis.

Get in touch

If you would like to speak with a member of the team you can contact our education law solicitors on +44 (0)20 3826 7528 or complete our enquiry form.

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