The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'

Schools Admissions

How to choose a school for your child? This information about the admissions criteria helps you secure the best place at a primary or secondary school for your children.

There is further advice about the application process, school admission deadlines, and how the appeals procedure works if you have a dispute or complaints.

When choosing schools your local council can help you find;

• A list of schools which are available in your area.
• School admission criteria for the ones you are interested in.

Note: Your council can also help you apply for child places at schools in other areas of the United Kingdom. All regional councils have advice teams to help parents get their children into suitable schools.

Finding Information about a School

There are several methods you can use to find out more about schools in your area;

School Website Requirements

Maintained schools must publish specific information on their website which must include;

Schools Admission Criteria

As a rule, schools admission criteria is set by themselves or by the local council, to determine which children get the available places. Each school admission criteria often differs among different education facilities, and in general they all give priority to children who;

Note: Your local council can provide you with a booklet about the admission criteria and how to apply for a child space.

Children with Special Educational Needs

The statement or education health and care plan will recommend a school for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and they will give your child a place.

Unfair Criteria Complaints

Any time you consider that a school has unlawful admission criteria you should contact the Schools Adjudicator. Unfair criteria complaints must be filed before the 15th of May which is when the places are allocated.

Applying for School Places

You must make an application for your child to get a place at a school, even if it is linked to the nursery or primary school that your child is currently attending. The way you apply for a school place depends on whether you are applying at a primary school or a secondary school.

If you are applying from abroad, or you have just moved to England, you should apply in the same way. Contact your local council if you are changing schools or applying for a school place after the start of the school year.

Note: Private schools have their own admissions procedures. Apply directly if you want to send your child to a private school.

How to Delay When Your Child Starts Primary School?

if you prefer your child to be held back a school year then both of the following must apply;

  1. They were born in the summer (1 April to 31 August).
  2. You do not think they are ready to start in the September after they turn 4 year old.

Your child could start school in the September following their fifth birthday. Contact the school admission authority to make this request - usually directly to the school or at the local council.

When do School Applications Open?

As a rule, even though school applications open on different days, they are usually conducted at the beginning of the autumn term of the year immediately before your child is due to start school. Your local council can inform you when the applications are open for primary or secondary school places.

Application Deadlines

  1. You must apply for a primary school place by 15 January.
  2. You must apply for a secondary school place by 31 October.

How to Apply

Whether you fill in the application form online or on paper, you will be asked to list a number of schools that you are applying for in the order of your preference. That means to meet this requirement you must apply for at least three different schools.

When you’ll find out

Your local councils sends confirmation;

  1. On the 16th of April for Primary Schools
  2. On the 1st of march for Secondary Schools

Note: Confirmation dates which fall on a weekend are sent out the next working day. Always contact your local council as soon as possible if your child has not secured a place.

Appealing School Decisions

When you receive the letter with the decision for your child's educational facility, it also informs you of how to appeal against the decision. If there is more than one rejection, you must appeal against each one separately.

Appeals for Infant Classes

Class size is limited to 30 pupils in reception (year 1 and year 2). That means your application may be turned down if all the classes already have thirty children placed in them.

Nevertheless, you can still appeal the decision if your child would have been offered a place. Appeals for infant classes may be successful if;

The Appeal Hearing

The admission authority must provide you with a minimum of ten school days' notice of the appeal hearing. Appeals must then be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal. There will be a panel of at least 3 people at the appeal hearing which must also be independent.

  1. The admission authority will explain why they turned down your application.
  2. You will be able to give your own reasons why your child should be admitted.
  3. The appeals panel must decide if the school's admission criteria were properly followed and are legal according to the school admissions appeals code.
  4. If the criteria are legal and were properly followed, the panel must decide if they were followed fairly and thoroughly.
  5. If the criteria were not properly followed or are illegal, your appeal must be upheld.
  6. If your appeal has not already been upheld, the panel will decide if your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school's reasons for not admitting another child.
  7. The panel will send you and the admission authority their decision within 5 school days.

Only a court may overturn a panel decision. You may be allowed to appeal again if there is a change in your circumstances which affects the decision.

Appeals Process Complaints

Even though you cannot complain about the decision itself, you are allowed to make a complaint about the way the appeal was carried out. As a rule, you should get a decision on your complaint within 9 weeks and a letter explaining the reasons for the decision.

Maintained schools - Complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Other schools - Complain to the Education Funding Agency about an appeal made to free schools, academies, university technical colleges, or studio schools.

If the Education Funding Agency determines that something went wrong with the appeals panel, they might;

If a maintained school becomes an academy, your complaint about an admission appeal hearing held by a maintained school that then converts to academy status, will be investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman.

In this case, the Ombudsman will pass any actions over for further investigation by the Education Funding Agency.

Schools Admissions, Place Criteria, and Applications; UK Rules Updated 2017