Primary school application deadline on 15th January 2020
Top tips for applying to primary schools
Parents of children born between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2016 have until 15 January 2020 to apply for a primary school place for the academic year starting in September 2020. Having advised parents of school applications for more than 30 years, we recommend the following:
- Research your local schools. All primary schools have websites and many produce brochures. Have a look online to get a feel for the school. Look for dates of open mornings or tours. Get a good feel for each school and look at how they are presented and whether the pupils seem happy and well-behaved.
- You know your child better than anyone else. What would encourage them to learn, progress and develop socially? Some children love a library while others want lots of outside space in which to run around. Find out whether schools offer any particular activities or if there is a strong emphasis on reading or writing, art or sport.
- Look at the most recent Ofsted report. All the reports are available, as are details of Sats results, on the Department for Education Performance Tables website. https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/
- Make sure you get the application process right. Your local authority’s admissions guide explains how to apply and lists the admissions criteria for schools in your area. Information from previous years is also published such as whether schools were oversubscribed, how places were allocated and the distance children admitted previously live from the school. If applicable, catchment area maps will also be included. The Good Schools Guide website contains maps for each school based on where pupils have been admitted from in recent years. This will give you an idea of how likely you are to get a place.
- A faith school may be an attractive option but you will need to complete a supplementary information form (SIF) which will ask for details of your family’s religious adherence. Regardless of its proximity to your home, many faith schools will give priority to children from religious families. Always check the school’s oversubscription criteria to be sure.
- Remember you are not choosing a school but rather listing those you would like your child to attend. Most local authorities ask parents to list three or four schools in order of preference. London parents are asked for six.Include at least one where you are virtually sure of getting a place – even if it isn’t your first choice. Otherwise, you risk being offered an undesirable, undersubscribed school some distance away.
- Appealing the decision if you are unhappy with the outcome of your application is unlikely to work. Successful primary application appeals are rare and are dependent on the local authority making a mistake when assessing an application. Long journeys to the school or having siblings at a different school are not grounds for an appeal. However, if you have a genuine case, it's worth getting good advice and challenging the decision.