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Admissions Explained

How Does it Work?


  1. School applications open on different dates in different areas, usually near the beginning of the autumn term of the year before your child is due to start Reception for primary school places.
  2. On the form, you will be asked to list your top choices of school in order of preference. You must be allowed to list at least three schools.
  3. After the closing date, the Local Authority (LA) will put your child’s name on the list for each of the schools you have listed. Their position on the list will depend on how well your child fits the school’s admission criteria – for example, they may be higher up a school’s list if you live very near to it.
  4. The equal preference system means that at this stage, the order in which you ranked the schools will not be taken into account. Your child will be put on the list for every school you have applied to.
  5. Each school has a published admission number (PAN): the number of places it has to offer. The LA will mark up the names at the top of each school’s list, up to its PAN. This is known as the School List. Those children whose names fall outside the PAN will be placed on a waiting list.
  6. If your child’s name appears on only one School List, your child will be offered a place at that school, regardless of where it ranked in your preferences.
  7. If your child is on more than one School List, the LA will then take into account the order in which you ranked the schools on your common application form. Your child will be offered a place at the school that you ranked highest. This happens around March 1 for secondary places and April 16 for Reception places.
  8. If your child isn’t allocated a place at any of your ranked schools, the LA will allocate a place at the nearest school with a space.
  9. If you have been offered a school that wasn’t your first choice, your child will remain on the waiting list for any other schools that you ranked higher than the one they have been offered. If a vacancy then comes up because another child decides not to accept a place, the LA will allocate the place to the next child on the waiting list. You can find out where your child is on the waiting list by contacting the admissions authority: this is the LA for community schools and voluntary controlled schools, the academy trust for academies, or the governing body for foundation or voluntary aided schools.