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School Applications - Check When and How to Apply

With the deadline for primary and secondary school applications fast approaching we thought it might be useful to create a five step guide about the most important information you need to know to ensure an application is made correctly and on time for your child.

Here, we look at the first in a series of five articles where trainee solicitor Sophie Britten from our Education Law Team shares some top tips about the application process. The first article looks at how and when to apply for a school placement which understandably causes the most concern for a parent because of the desire to secure the preferred school placement for their child.

Parents are entitled to express a preference for the school, or schools, they wish their child to attend. However, this does not mean that a place will be offered at any of the preferred schools. When looking for a school place, even if the preferred school is linked to your child’s current school, you must still apply.

There is a right of appeal if a child is refused a place at any of the preferred schools and we can assist you with this process. If you follow this link here, this will talk you through what assistance we can provide and the costs in relation to the same.

Important dates to note

Primary School

It is really important that parents check the deadline by when they have to apply. The applications for school placements open on different days in each local council area. You are able to find out from your local council when applications open for primary or secondary schools and you should make note of this date.

You must apply for a primary school place by 15 January. For example, if your child is due to start school in September 2020, you would need to apply by 15 January 2020. You can apply for a primary school place in the autumn term after your child turns 4, even if you want your child to start school part of the way through the term because you don’t think your child is ready just yet. So you would need to apply by 15 January 2020 if your child is aged 4 by September 2020; irrespective of whether you wish for them to complete a full school year or start part of the way through the term.

If a child is born between 1 April and 31 August they can start the September after they turn five, and you can contact your local council or school if you want them to start later. If you plan to defer your child’s start date until later in the school year, you must still apply at the usual time for primary places but make it clear on the application form that you wish to defer. If you fail to inform your local council you may lose the place at your preferred school.

Secondary School

You must apply for a secondary school place by 31 October for places in the following September. That means that this year, parents of children in the current year 6 need to apply before 31st October 2019 for a year 7 place for their child in September 2020. If you are in an area where there are middle and high schools, you should check what year children move and when you should apply.

How to apply

Applications are made to the local authority of the home address of the child. This is normally online via what is known as the common application form. Most local authorities have a lot of information on their website that explains the process and this will often be called “admissions arrangements”. If you do not have access to the internet you should telephone your local authority and ask to speak to someone about a school application – they will then explain alternative ways to apply.

Once you submit your application ensure you get proof by printing a copy or saving the e-mail receipt for example.

Applying late

If you miss the deadline you can still apply. However, your application will be considered “late” and will not be processed until after all of those received on time have been processed. This will reduce your chance of getting a place at any of your preferred schools.

Things to remember:-

  1. Check the deadline
  2. Read the local authority guidance regarding the admissions arrangements and process
  3. Apply on time and get proof of the application once submitted

Look out for our second article in the series, which explores how parents can research schools in their area.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.