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Applying for a School

This page outlines the school admissions process for state schools in England

Applying for a school place can be a worrying time for families. It is important that you understand the process so that you have the best chance of getting a place at your preferred schools

Your preference

All parents have a right in law to express a preference for the school(s) they would like their child to go to. This is not the same as having a right to choose a school. If too many children want to go to a particular school, there will be rules about who has priority for a place. You may be given your preference but you may not.

Start early - know the deadline date

It’s important to think about schools early, usually at least a year before your child is due to start school or move schools. If you are applying to start school in Reception the deadline is 31 January amd if you are applying to transfer to secondary school in Year 7, the deadline is 31 October. If your application is late your child will be given lower priority than people who applied on time.

Gather information

Find out as much as you can about the schools you are interested in. Some ways of getting information are:

  • The local authority’s composite prospectus (a guide to all the schools in the area)
  • Schools’ own brochures and websites
  • Ofsted report
  • Visiting the school

Check the rules - the oversubscription criteria

Each school will have rules to decide who gets a place if the school is oversubscribed. Check these carefully to see whether your child is likely to get a place. Make sure that you apply to at least one school where your child has a good chance of getting in, even if it’s a lower preference. If none of your preferences can be met the local authority will give you a place at another school that has vacancies.

Co-ordinated admissions

Local authorities must operate co-ordinated admissions scheme for primary and secondary admissions as part of the normal admissions round. This means that you only have to fill in one form or one online application regardless of where the schools are located. Your home local authority (where you live) deals with your application. You will be able to list several schools (usually three or six) in order of preference.

You will be informed of the outcome of your application and offered a single school place on Offer Day - 1 March for secondary school places and 16 April for Reception places.