How do I Apply for a Primary School Place?


I can hear you asking yourself this question. Your child is approaching the end of their pre-school education, and you find yourself wondering, “how has this come around so fast?”

Oddly, during the toddler years, time felt as if it had stood still and you were stuck in an endless calling of ‘Mummy… Mummy… Mummy!’

But then, they turn 3 and before you know it, you’re looking at primary schools.

Starting primary school is a huge step for any child. Your role in this transition is vital in helping your child adjust to this important milestone on their educational journey.

I hope that, through this blog, you are able not only to understand the process of primary school applications, but to take heed of some practical advice and ideas to support you and your child.

“Is my child due to start school in September 2020?”

Parents of children born between 1st September 2015 and 31st August 2016 have until 15th January 2020 to apply for a primary school place for the academic year starting in September 2020.

Whew, that’s a lot of dates to get your head around!

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

What makes a great primary school?

There is a pressure on parents to choose a primary school based on academic performance. Nowadays, exam results seem to be a ‘key indicator’ of the success of a school.

My advice? Broaden your thoughts. When you visit primary schools, think about the way in which the school made you feel. How did the teaching staff interact with you? How much of an impact did the Head Teacher make on you?

Do you remember when you were choosing a nursery for your child? I would place a strong bet that you made your decision based on how you felt about the nursery. You chose your nursery because you trusted the people who worked there.

That’s why I truly believe that being a ‘good’ primary school is far more about its ability to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum. It’s 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 sort of environment they need to be in that will support their social and emotional development. Think about the things your child enjoys, whether that be sport, music, drama, or reading. you can use those things 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 in case it doesn’t live up to 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, and some schools are completely focused on academic performance. You might value this; however, just ensure that you 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 rather 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.

Little girl aged around 4 years old poses for a photograph from her mother in her new school uniform. You can tell by her face that she is excited and eager to get to her new school to start learning. Mother is unrecognisable.

Little girl poses for a photograph in her new school uniform ready for her first day of primary school.

“Where can I find information about my local schools?”

All primary schools have websites and many even produce brochures. Have a look around online to get an initial feel for different schools and what they stand for. Information about upcoming Open Days may also be available online, so keep an eye out for those.

Take a look at the most recent Ofsted reports for schools. All the reports are available as well as details of SATs results on the Department for Education Performance Tables website:

Compare School Performance Service

The application process

Parents of children born between 1st September 2015 and 31st August 2016 have until 15th January 2020 to apply for a primary school place for the academic year starting in September 2020.

You must choose three potential schools as part of your application.

The deadline for all primary school applications is Wednesday 15th January 2020. All information relating to applying for your child’s primary school can be found here:

Schools Admissions

“When will I find out which primary school my child will be attending?”

You should receive confirmation of your child’s primary school place on 16th April 2020.

Some food for thought…

As the first five years of your child’s life draw 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, believe me, these little people are far more adaptable than we give them credit for. With your support, you will both embrace the next milestone that is, ‘starting big school’.

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

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Dr Seuss

Enjoy this blog? Find out some more parenting tips and advice on our Reading Corner!

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