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Any Questions, Chris Woodhead, Sunday Times, 5 June 2011.

Q: Our daughter has achieved the required marks — 121 — in the exam for a local grammar school in Buckinghamshire and we live within the school’s catchment area. Yet our daughter was refused a place. We understand that 19 children who scored fewer than 121 marks have been offered places on appeal. Is this legal and, even if it is, is it morally right or fair? Marie McGurin, Buckinghamshire.

A: I am pleased to hear that since writing to me you have learnt that your appeal against this decision has been successful. I think grammar schools should admit the children who do best in the entrance tests, so this seems to me the right outcome.

The education lawyer Jack Rabinowicz tells me that any parent contemplating an appeal should check the details on their child’s application form against the admissions criteria because the process can, and sometimes does, go wrong.

There are four issues to consider if you do go to appeal.

  • One, is there a basic flaw in the admissions criteria that renders the decision not to award a place invalid?
  • Two, were the criteria correctly applied?
  • Three, is the school oversubscribed?
  • Four, is there a particular reason why your child needs to go to this school?