Parental right of appeal to the Exceptional Circumstances Body

Date published: 15 May 2020

The Department has established an independent Exceptional Circumstances Body (ECB) to consider applications from parents where it is claimed that a child must attend a specified post-primary school, and no other post-primary school, for exceptional reasons. Further information and an application form can be found on the nidirect website:


To be read along with the Exceptional Circumstances Body application form

Venue for ECB hearings

Under normal circumstances Exceptional Circumstances Body (ECB) hearings take place in venues throughout Northern Ireland. However, this is not possible at present.   We have decided that the most practical arrangement for dealing with ECB applications at present is, where possible, to conduct all hearings at Rathgael House in Bangor.  This facility will enable applicants, other witnesses and panel members to maintain appropriate social distancing. 

It is important to note that attendance at a hearing is not compulsory and you can request that the ECB panel reach its determination in your absence.   In the alternative, for applicants who may be unable to travel to Bangor, for example for medical reasons, we will facilitate participation in the hearing using a videoconferencing facility.   Our objective is to ensure that your application is considered promptly, but in the safest way in order to comply with current restrictions. 

Timescales for ECB applications

Under normal circumstances, following receipt of completed applications, the ECB Secretariat aim to arrange a hearing within 28 days, and issue the panel’s decision within three weeks, or as soon as possible thereafter.  However due to the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, it may not be possible to meet these deadlines. 

To help the processing of your application please check that it is fully completed, signed, and if required, a Declaration of Consent signed by the child if they are over 13 years of age.  Also ensure that all forms of evidence provided in support of your application are originals (apart from the AP1 Transfer Form, a copy will be accepted). 

Incomplete application forms will be returned

It is also advised that applicants provide an email address, where one is available, as this may speed up the process – see page 7, point 3 of ECB application form.

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