How to Apply for Your Child’s Primary School Place

How to Apply for Your Child’s Primary School Place

For many parents, the idea of school applications seemed like something way ahead in the future.

It may only feel like yesterday you were bringing your child home from the hospital. However, here we are, thinking about the next stage of our child’s education.

This blog is tweaked each year to help parents apply for the next relevant academic year, so we hope you’ll find this information helpful if your child is due to start primary school in September 2022.

It may also help to have an understanding of the application process if your child isn’t starting until 2023 though.

“Is my child due to start school in September 2022?”

Parents of children whose fourth birthday is between 1st September 2021 and 31st August 2022 have until 15th January 2022 to apply for a primary school place for the academic year starting in September 2022.

If you do not think your child is ready for school, they can start later as long as they are in full-time education when they reach ‘compulsory school age’. Further information regarding a delayed start can be found here on the Government website:

School Entry Criteria

You will have probably heard a lot of people discuss the lengths that they have gone to to get their child into their preferred school. We all know that ‘Good’ schools are in high demand and with fewer places available than children who want them, it can be highly competitive and stressful.

When researching your preferred schools, be sure to look at their website as they will often post information about the admissions criteria. This will help you assess the likelihood of your child being offered a place.

Some typical school admission criteria that schools may use include:

  • Children who live close to the school
  • Children who have a brother or sister at the school already
  • Children from a particular religion (for faith schools)
  • Children who are eligible for the Pupil Premium or Service Pupil Premium
  • Children whose parents have worked at the school for 2+ years

“How do I choose the right primary school for my child?”

What makes a great primary school?

Many parents feel pressured to choose a primary school based on academic performance, mainly because we have been told to believe that exam results are a ‘key indicator’ to the success of a school.

While academic performance has to hold some weight, other things should also influence your decision.

Think about the type of character your child has and what you feel will best suit their personality. Reflect on the interactions you have had with the staff at the school and, if you are lucky enough to have been able to visit schools post-pandemic, think about the ‘feeling’ you had when you visited.

A ‘Good’ primary school is far more about its ability to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum. It is more about whether you trust the staff to bring the best out of your child.

After all, you know your child better than anyone else. You know what environment they need to support their social and emotional development. Think about the things your child enjoys, whether that be sport, music, drama, or reading. Then, you can use their interests to find out more about a school’s facilities or activities they offer.

“Should I visit more than one school?”

Definitely.

You might have one particular school in mind as your first choice but be prepared for it to not surpass your expectations. Every school has a different ‘feel’, and you should use this to inform your decision.

Some schools might lack that spark or flair, while others will be focussed entirely on academic performance. You might value these; however, just be sure to base your decision on what you believe your child will benefit from the most.

Remember, in the first instance, at least, you are not choosing a school but instead listing those you would like your child to attend. Most local authorities (councils) will ask parents to list three or four schools in order of preference. Otherwise, you risk being offered an undesirable, undersubscribed school some distance away from where you live.

“When will I find out which school my child has been offered, and what can I do if I’m not happy?”

All children’s primary school places will be confirmed on or around 16th April 2022. You’re likely to receive a confirmation on Monday 18th April 2022 by email or in writing.

You will then need to accept the offer by the deadline provided in the offer letter. Otherwise, you risk losing your place.

If you are not happy with the school choice offered, you have the right to appeal this decision. Details on how to appeal decisions can be found here:

A Final Thought

As the first four or five years of your child’s life is drawing to an end, and both of you sit on the very edge of the next stage in your adventure, remember that you are not alone.

Many other parents will be feeling reminiscent of the memories, relationships and milestones that your child has already reached in their short lives so far. But, these little people are far more adaptable than we often give them credit for. So, with your support, they will embrace the next milestone, ‘starting big school’.

Before you go, here are some words of wisdom from the great Dr Seuss:

You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!

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