Below are a snap shot of the more recent testimonials that we have received for the Team at School Appeals Services.
We have testimonials going back to 2003, but display only a few to give you an idea of how we have helped parents in the past.
Testimonials for Matt Richards
Click on the video link to see and hear a video testimonial from Mr JG of Hertfordshire who won two appeals for an oversubscribed secondary school in February, 2016.
Mrs and Mrs DL of Hertfordshire who won their secondary school appeal in May, 2019
We found Matt Richards and the Schools Appeals Service via a google search one frantic afternoon when we were at our wits end having been turned down for all three Secondary School choices for our child.
I rang Matt, briefly explained our situation and we instantly arranged a 1-1 coaching session at his office to go over our case. Yes it was daunting, yes we had a long road ahead but now knew we had his expertise on board to help us battle for the place our
child rightly deserved.
We met at Matts office and instantly went over ou case and started to build our presentation document for the appeals panel and any supporting documentation etc etc that was needed. This hour session was invaluable to start the whole process off and we went away knowing exactly what was needed of us for the next stage of preparation.
I wont lie to you, the preparation of the presentation document was a daunting task and no easy one so be prepared for some really really hard work on your part, however, Matt was always at the end of the phone or an email in my moments of pure stress (of which there were many!). Matt always remained the voice of calm and reason even when I literally thought I was loosing my mind and the plot massively.
Before the actual day of appeal we went for a further coaching session at Matts house to make sure we all knew exactly what to expect on the day, who sat on the panel, what the set up was to give us a feel of what to expect that morning. We went over and over
our presentation until we were all comfortable and well prepared.
On the day of the Appeal, which we were fully
prepped for, but you still cannot imagine the nerves you are feeling but also a you feel a sense of “come on lets get this done”!.
Matt asked the panel his list of questions that only he could really ask which was a real comfort to have him by our side and then we presented our document with Matt by our side always reassuring with a gentle word in my ear or a nod of the head and we knew we did our very best on the day.
I am extremely happy to say we WON our appeal. I can honestly say, hand on heart, without Matt Richards by our side almost night and day, we could not have faced this whole daunting process without
We have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Matt and if you have any doubts whatsoever in your mind, don’t….I can honestly say that from the bottom of my heart when we received that letter that we Won our appeal I almost called Matt before my parents ! It
was and still is the best feeling ever and he made it all possible.
Be prepared for a lot of hard work on your part but you have the coaching and support right by your side to get your though this process.
If you need more reassurance am happy to email you if you need any more assurance as cannot thank him enough and hope he can help you like he has our family.
Mrs HR – North London, won her appeal in January 2019 after a long battle to get all of her children educated at the same school.
“I found School Appeals Services on a Google search and after an initial conversation with Matt, was impressed by his clear knowledge of the area and the straightforward and easy to understand advice he gave me at the initial 1-2-1 session. It was obvious to me that while not being an unintelligent person, this was a process where guidance and advice was needed and I engaged Matt to not only write the appeal documentation for us but also to attend the hearing.
Over the course of the next few months, I had many conversations and emails with Matt and I have to say that even though there were times when I felt like the odds were stacked against us, Matt kept me confident and provided clear and appropriate guidance for us. He also dealt with all of the correspondence with the Local Education Authority which proved invaluable in the end.
Shortly before the appeal date, I spent two hours with Matt in what he calls his “coaching session” and we went over in detail not only what he would do at the appeal hearing and the merits of the school’s case but also we had a role play in terms of what I would say and also the likely questions that were to come up. This was incredibly useful in not only preparation but building my confidence for the hearing.
The hearing itself went very well, in fact, it went far better than expected! It was clear from the outset that even though the Admission Authority brought the school’s headteacher with them to the appeal and they put forward a detailed and what I thought was a compelling presentation that the school could not take my daughter, Matt by using information that he had secured before the hearing and cleverly outwitting some of the arguments put forward by them, significantly weakened the arguments that were put forward.
To my surprise, we were asked to step outside of the hearing while the Panel decided whether the school had proven their particular case and while we were both ready then put our individual case forward, I was extremely surprised, but very pleasantly so, that when we were invited back into the room, the Panel decided the school was unable to convince the Panel that their case was strong, which effectively meant that we won. Not only was this a fantastic result but it also meant I did not have to wait a week for a letter telling me what the result of the appeal was.
I am completely convinced that without Matt’s assistance, there is no way that this result would have been achieved. No one can be certain of what might have happened without the assistance of someone like Matt, but I know that the information that I would have put forward and the way that I would have dealt with the hearing as a parent would have been completely different and I would have been at an extreme disadvantage because of my lack of knowledge of the process, the information that needs to be put forward and the hearing itself.
I now have all of my children being educated at the same school and this has been a life changing decision on the part of that Appeal Panel.
I would strongly urge anyone reading this to give serious consideration to having professional help with your appeal and whatever level of service you ask School Appeals Services to undertake for you, I can guarantee that will improve your chances of success. I would thoroughly recommend Matt to any of my friends, family and colleagues and have already passed his details onto others.”
Mr HK – Cheltenham
Mr HK Won his appeal for his TWO sons with Matt’s help in July, 2018
“Thank you for your help with getting the boys into xxxx school.
Having tried and failed conducting my own school appeal, I knew we needed help. After speaking to a few solicitors who could offer legal help, I knew that School Appeals were so much more than that. You gave us creative help on how to research and write up our case, sharp concise angles to weaken the schools case and brilliant help from years of experience into the psychology putting our case to the panel.
On the day we felt confident and well prepared. We knew, whatever the result, you had earned every penny of your fee, so when we won it felt like the best investment we had made in years.
I will whole heartedly recommend to any who think they can do it alone to think again and give you a call.
All the best for the future.”
Mr and Mrs WR – Hertfordshire
Won their appeal for an excellent Hertfordshire Secondary school in March, 2016 after having lost appeals at two previous schools without assistance
We would like to thank you so much for your help during these past few stressful months!
After having been turned down not once, but twice, we were at our wits end but having you guide us step by step and dealing with our, what must have seemed constant anxieties and concerns made it so much easier to do this appeal. That said I still can’t believe that we have won.
But we got there at last thanks to you and your knowledge and skilful representation at our hearing.
We shall definitely be recommending you, that’s for sure!!
Once again Matt, thank you for all your help and support.”
Mrs F D – East London
Won her Infant Class Size Prejudice appeal in May 2015 with Matt’s help
“I enlisted the help of Matt at School Appeals Services after I had already been unsuccessful at my sons first Infant Class Size School Appeal.
I was offered a second appeal hearing and felt that I needed professional help to give me the best possible chance of success, second time round.
Matt was recommended to me, so after discussing my case at length with him, I decided to go ahead. He did give me a realistic opinion on what he thought my chances of success were before I proceeded.
Matt helped me with every aspect of my son’s case. He assisted me in re-drafting my appeal documents, helped liaise with the admissions department and prepared me for the hearing.
The first hearing I found very to be much more complex and intimidating than I had envisaged, so I found his help invaluable.
Matt has a wealth of expertise and experience and I cannot recommend him highly enough.
With his assistance, we were successful in our second appeal hearing. I do not think this would have been possible without his help and I cannot recommend him highly enough.”
Mr KW – Hampshire
Mr KW won his appeal in May 20115
“Having had a 121 with Matt, I worked with him over a few months getting my personal statement spot on.
While I considered representation, I opted for Matt’s new coaching package and went to see him for an hour and a half’s appointment one evening (in fact, he spent closer to two hours with us and didn’t charge extra). It was a long drive but well worth it as we won our appeal two days later. I even managed to get hold of Matt on his mobile in an adjournment during my hearing for some last minute advice.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Matt to any parent going through the appeal process”
Mrs SF – West London
Won her appeal in January 2009 on Stage 1 (i.e. the LEA were judged not have proven their case)
“Whilst preparing for an appeal for our eldest daughter, we came across the schoolappeals.com site. We obtained a copy of the 50 page manual, which we were really impressed with. We then opted for the 1-2-1 session, during which Matt advised us on which aspects of our case were technically the strongest. He looked objectively at our appeal, which as a parent is difficult when emotions are running high. He helped us present the strongest possible case, both in advance of, and at the hearing itself.
We won our appeal to a Faith School at Stage 1!!!
We cannot thank Matt enough.”
Mrs RB – Hampshire
Won her appeal in June 2008 and secured a month later (having become involved with five other parents in a High Court Case over the Appeals Panel decision)
“After successfully winning our appeal, only then to be notified two weeks after that Hampshire County Council were taking the Appeal Panel to the High Court – we knew that this had now become a battle that we could not fight alone and we needed to call in an expert – that expert was Matt Richards, from the Schools Appeals Service.
Having spent only a short time in conversation with Matt, he demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the appeals process and suggested a clear, well thought-out plan of action. This was exactly the approach we needed at such a stressful time and we felt relieved that we had the School Appeals Service working with us.
Although, our pending High Court case presented the Matt with a unique situation, Matt instantly took control of the situation and suggested that we needed a two-pronged approach:
(1) The School Appeals Service would tackle the legal element, such as: liaising with the High Court; contacting the lawyers for the defence at Bracknell Borough Council and ensuring that the Independent Appeals Department at HCC were fully aware of our concerns regarding the potential new appeal hearing that would take place if the Court Case was lost.
(2) We, the parents, with Matt in the background, would launch a co-ordinated media/’moral’ campaign, which would include local press, regional TV & Radio stations (BBC South Today, ITV Meridian), Eagle Radio and BBC Southern Counties Radio).
Matt’s persistence was another key strength that he demonstrated through-out the process. During the three week period, there were times when our morale became extremely low and we doubted our ability to keep fighting. However, Matt’s contagious enthusiasm and tenacity gave us the strength to continue. Also, Matt’s systematic approach, detailed documentation of conversations and clearly defined next steps made it easier for us to keep focused and motivated.
Without Matt’s advice, support and friendship throughout our ordeal, we would not have had the courage to launch such a successful ‘moral’ campaign, which ultimately led to HCC’s decision to allow our children to attend the school on compassionate grounds. We will always remember how you supported and believed in our case and would like to sincerely thank the School Appeals Service for providing such an excellent level of service (which often went way beyond the call of duty) and for being our pillar of strength and navigating our families through such a dramatic time.”
Mr MD – Surrey
Won his appeal in July 2008 after working with us for around three months on preparation, coaching and representation on the day
“If you’re reading this, then I truly believe you have already taken a crucial first step towards improving your chances of winning your appeal.
When I found this site myself, I was angry, upset, and daunted by the appeal process ahead of me. I bought the Guide, and started to see there might be a way forward. So I opted for the 40 min 1-2-1, and Matt put things in perspective for us, and set us on the way to preparing our appeal. Throughout the process, he encouraged us when we needed it, and wisely held us back when we were at risk of going too far.
On the day of the appeal, he sat through it with us, and together we presented the best case we could have made. And the outcome was – WE WON! – against all the odds. We still can’t believe it, and the difference it will make to all our futures is only just starting to sink in.
Whatever the LEA says about it being an informal hearing, it isn’t. It is a competitive, even adversarial process, but you can manipulate the system to give yourself the best chance of winning. To do this effectively, you need someone who knows the process inside out, from every point of view. I am confident that Schools Appeals Services offers the most cost effective option you can take if you are serious about winning. You will still need a great deal of patience, effort, and concentration, but in the end, even if the result goes against you, you will have the peace of mind of knowing you did the best you could, and all for a very reasonable charge.
We feel like we moved a mountain, but if we did, then Matt was driving the dumper truck! If you’re really committed to winning your appeal, then you’d be mad not to retain Matt or one of his colleagues to fight in your corner.”
Testimonials for Jeremy Haw
Professor I G, - Yorkshire
Professor I G successfully obtained a place at her chosen Primary school with Jeremy’s assistance and representation in January 2019
“I found the School Appeals Services through Google and I am so pleased that I did.
My daughter, in year one at school during a local baby boom, has special needs which her school was not catering for despite repeated requests from CAMHS and Social Services and we have just been offered a place in a lovely, caring Church school where I hope she will thrive.
Jeremy Haw was brilliant. I had a one-to-one telephone consultation, assistance with preparing a written submission and representation at the hearing and at every stage he added value. I am an academic and am very used to preparing and presenting material but I simply could not have done what Jeremy did. Indeed one of the school’s representatives said that the case was the best he had ever seen in six years of attending appeals panels.
It is difficult to over-state how much this means to me since there simply weren’t any other options so, thank you Jeremy”.
Mr NC – Cheshire
Mr NC won his Secondary school appeal in July 2018. Mr NC is a qualified solicitor and a partner in a law firm and yet still sought advice from us!
I would like to thank you for your invaluable assistance and representation in my son's school appeal to XXXXX.
As you know he was successful, and after checking the admissions details only 3 of the 24 appeals were successful. (There were 37 over subscribed first choices).
Max loves his school and I feel it is the best investment in my sons education I could have made and would not hesitate to recommend your services to any parent worried over their child`s school placement. I certainly do not believe I would have been successful had I prepared my own appeal.
Thank you once again.”
Mrs and Mrs FG – Manchester
Mr and Mrs FG won their secondary school appeal after having representation and coaching from Jeremy in May, 2015
We cannot express our gratitude for the sympathetic and compassionate support and also the professional service you have provided us with.
Without your help I am sure we would have not been able to get through and get this fantastic result. The process is difficult and it is really stacked against parents, so the right support and guidance is essential.
Your coaching before the appeal hearing was absolutely invaluable and gave us lots of confidence. Also having someone who has done it so many times in our corner meant we were able to be quietly confident.
Many thanks again for all your hard work.
Mr and Mrs PC – Leeds, Yorkshire
Won their Reception (Infant Class Size) appeal in May 2014
Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that our appeal against Education Leeds was successful.
The panel was not satisfied that class size legislation applied in this instance and they deemed that it was unreasonable of the LEA not to have looked into xxx's special educational needs which we outlined to them in the original admissions form.
We wanted to thank you for the information and advice you gave us during our 1-2-1 telephone consultation. It gave us a good understanding of ICP legislation and where our case could be won. We structured our written case, submitted in advance of the hearing, using the format of "Example One" in the Schools Appeal Services parent guide. Please pass on our thanks to Matt as this was invaluable.
We wish you every continued success in helping other children and parents with their appeals as we fully appreciate the upset and stress that going through this process can cause.”
Dr S A. – Lancashire
Won his appeal in January, 2009
We thank you very much for your assistance in preparing for the appeal and for representing us at the hearing itself. I think it made all the difference because we found out that all the other appeals that day were refused!
Mr ML – Nottingham
Won his appeal in June 2009 on Stage 1 (i.e. the LEA were judged not have proven their case) It should be noted that Mr ML is a practicing solicitor who asked us to represent him.
Set out below is a brief extract of his letter to us.
“After your devastating submission, the whole audience both clapped and cheered. For me it was something akin to a scene in a movie and got a bit surreal, the rest of the hearing became a mopping up of a mortally wounded LEA submission.
To be frank in short the LEA’s case was annihilated by you. Even the panel’s demeanor went from impartial to displeasure with the LEA submission. It took them less than ten minutes deliberation to announce the LEA had not proven its case.
In short, to succeed in wholesale undermining of the LEA submission and then its systematic destruction in less than 15 minutes of the submission commencing is outstanding.
The result of that appeal was that not only our son was admitted to the school of preference hitherto denied by the LEA but to also directly influence the admission of 27 other children to the school as well. In short that appeal was 100% successful at what looked the most difficult stage .An awesome outcome no matter how you look at it.
I do not think it is to overstate the situation to say that the resultant outcome for our son has profound positive implication for his future. I am looking back so glad we hired your services. Please again convey my thanks to all concerned.”
Mrs MG – Cockermouth, Northumberland
Won her appeal in June 2008
“Just a quick e-mail to say thanks so much for all your help.
We are thrilled with result - xxxxxx starts back tomorrow! Back into her old class with her old mates.
Apologies for hysteria on my part - there's so much packed away that if you lift the sticking plaster at all, it all seems to come tumbling out. Anyway, the appeal was a big thing which is now over.
Can't tell you how much stress it did lift knowing that you were familiar with what and how to do everything that alone was worth it and representation on the day was a lifesaver”
Testimonials for David Knight
Mr and Mrs JD - North LondonWon their appeal after receiving full coaching support from David in March to June 2020
After buying the Parent Guide we decided to arrange a consultation with David. He was able to review our appeal document, guide us through the whole process and even told us which questions we were likely to be asked at the hearing (he was right!).
Despite the whole process being incredibly stressful, I can’t imagine what it would have been like without David’s help. I am very happy to say both our children were offered places at the school.
It simply is not possible to overstate how important professional help is. It also helps massively when the professional is friendly, helpful and accessible, in addition to being very good at what he does. David fits the bill.
I have also liked your Facebook page and I am sure many of my friends will see this – lots of them know what we went through and there’s every chance they will know someone who plans an appeal, especially as our children are fast approaching senior school age.
Mr & Mrs B, West Midlands
Mr & Mrs B engaged the services of David to successfully appeal for a place at their local Primary school in May, 2019
“We would like to thank you and the school appeals service for your advice and support over the last couple of months and on the day of the appeal.
Having no experience of the appeals process and not knowing what it entailed, we sought the services of the school appeals service and were put in touch with David Knight. His invaluable advice and support helped us confidently draft an appeals document, his coaching and representation on the day of our appeal helped us to present our case. Just knowing that someone was there to support and help us on the day was comforting.
At times it was difficult to know what to do and how, but, David would always put us at ease and we always felt confident and reassured after speaking to him.
We subsequently won our appeal and secured a place at one of the best primary schools in our county for our son.”
Mr F, Buckinghamshire
Mr F successfully appealed for a Year 7 place at a top Buckinghamshire Grammar school in May 2016 with David’s support
“I just wanted to let you know that yesterday we received the fantastic news that our appeal has been successful, and Michael been offered a place at the Royal Latin School. Competition for a small number of places was fierce.
There were 15 appeals for Michael's year group. We don't know how many places were allocated, but based on the school's case I would be surprised if more than 3 have been offered.
Your help and advice were invaluable in securing this appeal - in the early stages I wasn't sure that we had a very strong case, but you helped us draw out the important features and present our case in the best way. I'm really not sure our appeal would have been successful without your help.
As discussed, please feel free to share any of our materials with any other parents - this is a horrible process and we need all the help we can get!
Once again David, many thanks for all your help.”
Mr J T
Mr J T engaged the services of David and subsequently won his appeal for a Reception place at his preferred Primary school in June 2013.
“About three and a half months ago, I read a testimonial on the School Appeals website which said "I’m so pleased it’s finally over". I didn't realise just how true that would be.
The whole process is mentally and emotionally exhausting. Having David Knight assist us in our school appeal helped my wife and I in the process of what to do from a procedural point of view but it also gave us someone to bounce ideas off and talk with throughout the whole ordeal.
Having David at the end of the phone also helped to keep my wife and I on track. Going through the appeal process will be a lot of hard work, so be prepared. I work for a local authority and come into contact with admissions staff on a regular basic but the appeals process is another matter entirely. The appeal is measured and decided upon in a specific way which we had no experience of.
My advice is that you need to know as much and probably more than the local authority to win your appeal. With the massive pressure of the appeal outcome effecting yours and your child's future or circumstances the pressure can be huge and having schools appeal to assist and work with us was vital.
We won our appeal and today my wife, my son and myself attended the school’s welcoming day for the new Reception year group which will be starting in September.
This was an amazing feeling considering only a few months ago we received a letter saying we would not be offered a place at this school and would have to accept a school we had never even heard of. I would recommend School Appeals Services and in particular David Knight and am so pleased we didn't just settle for what we always believed, was the wrong decision.”
Mr S B, Cambs
Mr S B won his appeal for a Secondary school with the help of David in May 2010.
“I would like to say how helpful I found David Knight to be when seeking a Secondary transfer appeal last year.
He helped me over and above the call of duty and his helpful comments and knowledge, together with our determination and the courage to speak out on the day, caused my son to amazingly get the only appeal out of five at his tightly closed and highly oversubscribed school.
I would encourage parents to speak out and have courage, if you don't ask and request, you will never know if you could have won an appeal. I was also very careful to get lots of supporting evidence and at David's advice requested other pieces of evidence also. I highly recommend David Knight to you and encourage you to appeal.”
Mrs KH – Birmingham, who won her granddaughter’s Infant appeal in November 2012 after three attempts with the support and advice of David. This was a case that received national publicity – see the video news clip below.
“My granddaughter was allocated the third choice of school for Reception admission in 2012 which is almost a mile from home, with the route being along a very busy arterial road, with only an hourly bus service, and no parking facility. In normal circumstances this would not be an issue, but my daughter’s son, at the age of 15 months was diagnosed with a terminal illness, meaning that taking him along this route, would undoubtedly shorten his life further.
The first choice school is a 5 minute walk from home, where all other children in the road attend. The family missed out by only a short distance, because the authority had reduced the allocation distance by almost half over the previous 3 years.
David Knight, and latterly Matt Richards from School Appeals Services offered support and guidance from the beginning, and although it took three appeals, we were finally successful. School Appeals offered points of reference, made suggestions to strengthen our argument in the appeal reviews, guided us on legislation issues and referred us to the Local Government Ombudsman.
They did consultations via Skype, spent many hours on the telephone and, and sent an abundance of information via email, for which we are very grateful.”
Mrs GR – Coventry, who won her appeal for a Reception place with David’s help in June 2012
“I would thoroughly recommend the services of David Knight to assist you in your school appeal journey.
David was with me from the first evening I received the news that my son had not got a place in his Reception class for his catchment school and was there for every step of the difficult and stressful journey with advice, support and guidance.
I would wholeheartedly recommend him and his team should you find yourself in this difficult position to know that you have someone going through it with you means everything when the battle is more often than not, uphill.
David not only knows what he is talking about in terms of admission appeals but is also readily available and frankly demonstrates a caring nature which I suspect is highly unusual in his profession. Not only did I feel I was getting good advice, but I never felt that the questions I was asking or information I was seeking was regarded in any way by David other than something which he welcomed.
I am sure it has been said before, but the decision of the Appeal Panel, which was a successful one for us, is something which has changed my son’s life.
Thank you once again.”
Testimonials for John Chard
Mrs H F – West Sussex won her primary (Infant Class Size Prejudice) appeal in July 2012 having worked with John
“We won our infant class size prejudice appeal with the help of John. His advice and presence at our appeal was invaluable and we believe it was down to his knowledge of the new admissions code and the thorough examination of the schools case that secured us the place for our son at our preferred school. He will now start in reception in September 2012. John's questioning of the schools case was done in a very artful manner. He worded his questions in such a way as to gain the most information from the school and then followed their answers with further questioning. All in all I would thoroughly recommend hiring John to provide advice, prepare your statement and attend your school appeal. Whatever the outcome of our appeal had been we felt by involving John all the way it gave us the best possible chance of securing a place for our son at our preferred school.”
Mrs and Mrs AK – Hampshire, who won their Primary (Infant Class Size Prejudice) appeal with John’s help in June 2012
“We would highly recommend John for assisting with any school appeal. He is incisive; extremely well informed regarding the Codes and procedures; is thoroughly adept at teasing out the salient points; and leaves no stone unturned. Our infant class size appeal was a complicated case which involved issues concerning exceptional medical and social need. The appeal was successful and the panel specifically made reference to points John had advised for inclusion. John went more than the extra mile for us; and provided invaluable support for us at every stage. The service was nothing less than sterling and we would have felt completely adrift were it not for John. He is polite, professional at all times, and it was a pleasure to deal with him.
Mrs TS – London, who John helped successfully win an appeal in June 2011.
“I found John Chard during a Google search on school appeals, I was slightly apprehensive about paying money to a complete stranger online but I was desperate. There’s so much uncertainty and I found it difficult to understand the Admission Authority’s statements as to why my daughter was not offered a place at her preferred school, much less the school’s admissions criteria. Turns out they made a mistake with their published admissions number but I would not have known this without the advice given to me by John Chard. The man is a genius, very articulate and professional. He puts you at ease during a seriously stressful time and his experience and knowledge of the appeals process gives you that peace of mind that everything will be ok. He made mince meat of the Authority’s case and consequently my daughter was offered a place. I certainly would recommend John’s services, he’s very good.”
Mr & Mrs MM – Oxfordshire, who engaged John successfully to secure a high quality Secondary school for their daughter in February 2011.
“You may see many websites with glowing testimonials, and doubt them, but having recently used John’s services ourselves and winning our first ever appeal for a secondary school place for our daughter we know the comments are all 100% true. Despite being confident parents we were very concerned that the Appeal Hearing may involve jargon, procedures and information we were really not experienced in. Once John became involved he clearly steered us through the minefield. In addition, John ensured that our appeal statement was watertight and so comprehensive that even the appeal panel commented, “It is not often that you do not have to try to extract information from the parents.” We were only asked 2 minor questions by the panel, which was a great relief.
John responded so efficiently by both telephone and e-mail to any queries we raised (even on a one-off weekend call). He armed us with the essential facts & figures so boosted our confidence to represent ourselves. Truly, we are still in disbelief that we actually won the appeal because the entire experience was so quick and faultless. This is solely due to John’s involvement, invaluable input and support. We are delighted that we have secured our daughter’s secondary education up to age 18 at an excellent specialist school, and are really indebted to John. Our daughter is still in disbelief, but so excited. Having already recommended School Appeals to a friend, we can honestly say we feel the fees were an excellent investment for the professional, friendly and expert service received. Well worth every penny for our daughter’s future education and much cheaper than the private school fees alternative we may have been forced to make, had we not won. So a big THANK YOU.”
Mr SN – Essex, who won his school appeal with John’s assistance in June 2011.
“We contacted John four weeks before our appeal hearing feeling very anxious about the whole process. John was absolutely fantastic and dealt with case quickly and efficiently. John put us at ease answered our never ending list of questions and concerns and equipped us to go into the hearing feeling confident. Our hearing lasted nearly two hours and John was with us all the time. He is amazing and we left feeling we had all given it our best. Our appeal was upheld and our son is on his way to his chosen grammar school.
We are delighted with the result and will never forget the support and input from John who has played a major part in the future of our son’s education. John is a truly kind gentleman who genuinely cares about the outcome for your child. I would highly recommend using him to prepare your case and to represent you at the hearing.”
Testimonials for Nabil Dance
Mr and Mrs M – Kent
Nabil assisted and represented Mr and Mrs M against the odds where their daughter failed her 11 Plus assessment by 17 points but the family were delighted with the incredible and unexpected outcome which was confirmed in June 2013:
“We thought we would write to you to say thank you once again and provide a testimonial for you to use.
Our daughter was always described as a ‘Grammar school girl’ however on the day of her 11+ maths exam she was not well and the result was to be assessed suitable for admission to a high school and unsuitable for Grammar school. With a 17 point difference in one subject and a child who was obviously academically able, we did not know which way to turn.
We were told time and again, by friends and teachers alike, not to worry and that an appeal was all very informal, we need only write a short letter for it. We researched on-line and it became very clear that this was not the case, the whole appeal process and hearing was far more legally structured than we had been led to believe. We decided we needed help, and fast!
Long and short was we wanted to know in our heart of hearts that we had prepared for everything the appeal would entail and that we had done everything in our power to best present our daughters case and win a place for at her at her chosen Grammar school.
There would only be one bite at the cherry so to speak, with legal help we knew that we instantly increased our chances of winning and we also knew that even if we did not win we would be satisfied that we had done our very best for our daughter and not lost a place simply because we had been naive or unprepared.
Bless you Nabil, you managed to talk to me and listen through the initial tears, and over the weeks that followed you took the time to explain everything. You reassured and guided my husband and I and you were always on hand to answer any questions or worries we had. We felt able to make contributions to our daughter’s case and at the end my husband and I both felt satisfied that we had done everything we could for her appeal hearing.
You coached us just prior to the hearing and we did a role play where you asked us lots of questions, which actually did turn up on the day! The hearing was nerve wracking, but because we had prepared well before hand and we now knew what to expect (and in what order) my husband and I both came out feeling that we had said everything and that there was nothing more we could do, it was in the hands of the panel.
We’ve spent just under a week waiting and today we received the wonderful news that our daughter has been awarded a place at her chosen Grammar school! She is absolutely delighted and keeps telling us how happy she is. We too are delighted, and relieved too. Her future was too important to go into this on our own and we’re so grateful that we had you, someone who has done this many times before, with us on the journey! Thank you Nabil.”
Mr and Mrs B, Bristol
Mr and Mrs B, who are both qualified lawyers, successfully obtained a place at their chosen school in Bristol with Nabil’s assistance and representation in June 2011.
“When we didn’t get our son into the secondary school of our choice we were devastated.
Our son is severely dyslexic, although bright and we could not trust his complex educational needs to the huge comprehensive school he had been allocated which had a pretty bad OFSTED Report and was too far away for our son to travel to on his own.
The school we had chosen was a small friendly academy with an enviable record for academic excellence for all children including those with dyslexia and similar SEN. Our initial reaction at failing to gain a place for our son was to resign ourselves to considerable sacrifice in order to educate him privately.
One of us is a practicing barrister and we have both trained and practiced as lawyers. We knew a schools appeal procedure existed but our impression was that it was almost impossible to win. We decided however, to look into appealing. Luckily we had enough legal experience to know that we knew nothing about this specialised area of law and that “dabbling” in a specialist legal area is a recipe for disaster. If we wanted to appeal, the best advice we could give to ourselves was to find a specialist.
After some internet research, we found the Schools Appeals Service. One phone call later with Nabil Dance and we had the beginnings of a reasonable case. It was immediately apparent that we had grounds for appeal that we hadn’t even realised existed and what we thought were strong points were actually not going to be our best points.
Over the next 2 months, Nabil was a hard task master and was meticulous in expanding every point in our favour until we had a lever arch file of well founded grounds and evidence. He was at the end of a phone line if required 7 days a week to give constant and detailed reassurance and feedback and attended at the appeal itself to share the advocacy. What can I say – we won!!!
One of our biggest concerns was size of school – it was imperative that our son’s secondary school should be a small school with excellent pastoral care in place as well as a good academic record, which was why the academy was our first choice. Nabil had warned us that appeals rarely succeeded on school size but he was prepared to try for us and put a lot of work on expanding this point as well as emphasising the more favourable grounds which existed. Well, we have just received the Appeal Panel’s reasons for finding in our favour – we won on all our grounds – including school size!
Thanks, Nabil – excellent result, we couldn’t be happier.
Amazingly, the final bill for all this non-stop, dedicated and ultimately successful service was a fraction of the cost we had been quoted by some specialist legal firms, (in fact so small that it wouldn’t have got most lawyers out of bed in the morning!) And winning has saved us about £60,000 in school fees!”
Mrs D – Buckinghamshire
After two unsuccessful appeals by herself (over two years) Mrs D successfully obtained a place at her chosen Bucks Grammar school with Nabil’s assistance and representation in June 2011
“Nabil Dance of School Appeal Services helped us in securing a successful appeal for our son to attend our chosen Grammar school.
Following two unsuccessful appeals, we engaged Nabil Dance. As a first step School Appeal Services helped us secure free transport for our son to his existing Grammar school. We then discussed the likelihood of success of a third appeal. Nabil helped us understand that we faced a significant challenge because our son already had a Grammar school place. With this in mind Nabil reviewed our case and advised us on how to present the evidence in the strongest light.
Understanding the legal process and the significance of both stages of the appeal process together with the coaching on how to write and present our son’s appeal made the difference and gave us the results we wanted.'
Nabil also assisted Mrs D with a Buckinghamshire Selection Appeal for her other son, which was successful in February 2011.
Mr and Mrs G – Surrey
Mr and Mrs G won their Primary school appeal (Infant Class Size) with Nabil's assistance and representation in July 2010:
“Thank you so much Nabil for all your help and guidance with our appeal for a reception place for our daughter 'L' at Oaktree. As you know, despite the near impossible odds of an Infant Class Size Appeal, we won!
The support you have given us right from the initial phone call has been absolutely crucial not just in the planning of the presentation of our case, but also to our sanity during this extremely stressful and difficult time.
Having an experienced person, like yourself, available to clarify the detail and legal aspects, meant we did not fall into the pitfalls of the process and were able to overcome local authority barriers.
The coaching session was essential, as it proved to us how much more practice we needed. The appeal hearing is certainly not something you can "wing" on the day.
On the day, your skilful questions to the authority and the panel, I believe, absolutely secured our positive result.”
Mr and Mrs H, Surrey
Mr and Mrs H won their Secondary school appeal in November 2011 with Nabil's assistance
“Our Daughter was not allocated a Secondary school place at any of our three preferred choices for Year 7, 2009 intake; instead she was allocated a place at a school where she knew no one. Our daughter is a sensitive, anxious child and we felt we had a strong emotional case therefore decided to appeal the following June without any help.
Naively, we sent off our A4 sized letter of appeal plus a supporting letter from her form tutor, thinking when we explained our situation they would surely understand. How wrong we were, we felt we had done all we could and the appeal meeting went well, however to our dismay we received a letter the next day to advise our appeal was unsuccessful. We felt totally devastated and alone as the appeal discussion is final.
We contacted School Appeals Services for advice of how to apply for a year 8 place and within a day we had a call from Nabil Dance. From that point on Nabil was a tower of strength, he completely took hand of the situation from advise on writing our appeal letter through to suggestions of on what documentation and information we should gather from various sources, many of which we would have never have considered.
We sometimes felt emotionally exhausted by the whole procedure but Nabil was always a phone call or email away and would gentle encourage us in the right direction and always remained honest and positive to which we are eternally grateful.
Words cannot describe how we felt when we received a call from the headmistress from the school of our choice to say she was so moved by a specific piece of evidence (Nabil’s suggestion) as a mother herself she thought enough was enough and would our daughter like to begin at her school as soon as possible.
Our daughter has been at her new school now for 6 weeks and the change in her is dramatic. I cannot thank Nabil enough for all his hard work, patience and commitment I only wish we had sort help earlier.”
Mrs W, Bristol
Mrs W, a grandmother, won her granddaughter’s Secondary Catholic Faith school appeal with Nabil’s assistance and representation in July 2011
“In March 2011 my daughter, my husband, and myself were dismayed to learn that T our granddaughter had been refused a place at the school of her choice. T herself was naturally devastated.
Her headmistress advised us to appeal immediately and as my husband and daughter are extremely busy running the family business, the job of preparing an appeal fell mainly on my shoulders. It seemed a daunting task and so important to get it just right.
Fortunately, an ex-teacher friend in the band I play with recommended www.schoolsappeals.com and I was put in touch with Nabil Dance the very same day on which I contacted them.
What a tower of strength Nabil turned out to be. He advised and guided us, always rang when he said he would and on time and if we left a message we were confident he would be in touch asap. When at times I felt I was completely out of my depth, he encouraged me going out of his way to go that extra mile.
The 1-2-1 coaching was invaluable and he was with my daughter and myself at the appeal calming me and encouraging us both. Over 170 children were refused a place and 43 families appealed. T was 30th on the waiting list so we didn't feel we had much chance of success. Nabil assured us it was winnable and we were overjoyed when we learned that the appeal had been successful.
I would recommend to any family faced with an appeal to engage Nabil to help you. We will always be grateful to him. Don't go it alone it is more complicated than you imagine. Your child's education and happiness is far more important than the cost which is involved.”
Mr and Mrs KG – Wiltshire
Mr and Mrs KG won their Secondary school appeal with Nabil's assistance in June 2009
Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. Things have been very busy around here so have not had the time to sit down and drop you a line.
We would just like to thank you for all your help in preparing us for our appeal for a school place for our daughter. The coaching session we had with you was extremely helpful. You prepared us well with hard hitting questions for the panel and guided us on how to put together our appeal in writing in a clear and informative way. You are very easy to communicate with and made us feel at ease.
The end result was a good one and we believe that we got that result due to being well prepared by taking your advice to gather with good evidence and reason when putting our appeal together, and by practicing our presentation skills.
We could not have done this without your expert advice and guidance. Thank you again, it was worth every penny!”