Find out how to choose a school for your child and the school admission criteria. This section explains how to get the best place at a primary or a secondary school for your children.
SCHOOL ADMISSION: There is advice on the application process and admission deadlines. Find out how the appeals procedure works if you have a dispute or a complaint.
When choosing a school for your child, your local council can help with:
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.
There are several methods you can use to find out more information on the schools in your area:
Maintained schools must publish specific information on their website such as:
As a rule, each school admissions criteria is set by themselves or by the local council. The criteria determines which children will get the available places.
School admission criteria often differs among different education facilities. In general, they all give priority to children who:
Note: Your local council can provide you with a booklet about the admission criteria. It explains how to apply for a child space.
Children with SEN will have a statement or education, health and care (EHC) plan. This will recommend a school for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). A recommended school must give a place to your child if you apply to that particular education facility.
You may consider that a school has unlawful admission criteria. If so, you should contact the Schools Adjudicator. Unfair criteria complaints must get filed before the 15th of May each year. This is the month when school places get allocated.
You must make a school application to secure a place for your child. This will apply even if it links to the nursery or primary school that your child currently attends. 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 recently moved to England, you should apply for a place at school in the same way. Contact your local council if you are changing schools. They can also help if you are applying for a school place after the start of the school year.
Note: The school admissions process is different for private schools. You should apply direct to the facility if you want to send your child to a private school.
If you want your child to get 'held back a school year' then both of the following must apply:
Your child could then start school in the September following their 5th birthday. You must contact the school admission authority to make this request. This will be at the school itself or at the local council.
School applications open on different days in different regions of the United Kingdom. The usually take place at the beginning of each autumn term. Thus, yours would be the autumn of the year immediately before your child is due to start school.
Note: The local authorities (council) can tell you when school applications open for child places.
You can fill in a school application form either online or using paper format (from the council). You must list three (3) different schools that you are applying for and in the order of your preference.
Your council will confirm if your child got accepted. Regional councils send the school place confirmation:
Note: Confirmation dates falling on a weekend get sent out the next working day. Always contact your local council as soon as possible if your child has not secured a place.
You will receive a letter with their decision about 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 as a separate issue.
Infant class sizes have a limit of 30 pupils in reception (year 1 and year 2). That means your application may get turned down if all the classes are full.
Even so, you can still appeal a decision if they would have offered a place to your child. Appeals for infant classes may be successful if:
The admission authority must give a minimum of 10 school days of notice before an appeal hearing. Appeals must then get 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 who must also be independent.
Only a court can overturn a hearing panel decision. You may appeal again if there is a change in your circumstances which affects the decision.
You cannot complain about the decision itself. But, you can make a complaint about the way the appeal got carried out. As a rule, you get a decision on your complaint within 9 weeks and a letter explaining the reasons for the decision.
Complain to the Local Government Ombudsman for maintained schools. For 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 and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) determines that something went wrong with the appeals panel, they may either:
What if a maintained school becomes an academy? Your complaint would be about an admission appeal hearing held by a maintained school which converted to academy status. In this case, it will get investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman.
Note: In this case, the Ombudsman will pass any actions over for further investigation by the Education Funding Agency.
Schools Admissions, Place Criteria, and School Applications in the United Kingdom