Schools and councils in England have been given a new code to govern appeals against their decisions on school places.
Parents have a right to appeal if refused a place
The mandatory code is aimed at balancing the right of parents to a fair hearing against the right of schools to not admit so many pupils that children's education suffers.
From Thursday, all admission authorities, governing bodies and appeals panels have to follow the code - previously they only had to have "regard" to it.
An admissions authority might be a local council, or in the case of faith schools - a diocese.
Schools minister Jim Knight said: “Today's new mandatory appeals code makes the existing system even more fair, robust and independent – and every local authority and school has to comply with it.
“I want every child to have a fair and equal chance to get into a school of their own choice.
"And it is absolutely right that parents have a statutory power to appeal against admission decisions, before a completely impartial appeals panel."
The Code says:
Anyone who has a connection with the school or who could be seen as partial must not sit on an appeal panel or act as clerk
Members of appeal panels must be trained on the admissions code and related law including the Sex Discrimination Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act.
There have to be specific timescales within which an appeal must be held
All parents must have appropriate guidance and information from admission authorities, to help prepare their case for appeal
All panels must have regard to the impact of additional admissions on the quality of education and use school resources
local authorities and diocesan bodies should consider centralising the recruiting and training of panel members and clerks, and take responsibility for administering the appeals process - leading to greater independence and consistency