Primary school application deadline on 15th January 2021
Top tips for applying to primary schools
Parents of children born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017 have until 15 January 2021 to apply for a primary school place for the academic year starting in September 2021. Below you will find some key pointers for completing your primary school application. Follow the following links to take a look at our more detailed advice on Finding the right primary school and the Primary school application process.
The Good Schools Guide has advised parents on state and independent school applications for more than 30 years. The admissions processes currently in place can be very confusing and so we encourage parents to thoroughly research their options. However, if you're looking for a starting point, then 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. Given the pandemic, you may not be able to visit the school in person but look for dates of virtual open mornings or details of online 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/
- 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 may also be included.
- Regularly attend your place of worship. 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.
- List your schools carefully. 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 and those in many other urban areas 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.
- Appeals? 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.
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