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School Applications - Check When and How to Apply

With the deadline for primary school applications approaching on 15 January, parents and carers of children due to start school or move into year 3 in September 2018 will be anxious about making the right choices and ensuring the application is made correctly and on time. 

Here, we re-visit the first in a series of five articles where members of our Education Law team share some top tips about the application process.

In most cases, parents are entitled to express a preference for the school, or schools, they wish their child to attend. This does not mean that a place will be offered at any of the preferred schools however. There is a right of appeal if a child is refused a place at any of those schools.

The application process can understandably be an anxious time for parents.

It is vital that parents check the deadline by when they have to apply. The national deadline for secondary school applications is 31st 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 2017 for a year 7 place for their child in September 2018. 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.

In this normal admissions round, 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 how you can apply.

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.

In all cases make sure you get proof of your application, by printing a copy or saving the e-mail receipt for example.

Top tips:

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

Article written by Deborah Robinson

If you are thinking about making an application to a preferred school, contact our Education Law department on either 0808 168 5550 or

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