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Primary school application deadline on 15th January 2024

Primary school children walk to school

Parents of children born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020 have until 15 January 2024 to apply for a primary school place for the academic year starting in September 2024. Below you will find some key pointers for completing your primary school application. Thes bullet points represent the basics, however many parents will want, or even need, to get into the minutiae. Click on the following link to take a look at our more detailed advice on Applying to primary schools.

The Good Schools Guide has advised parents on state and independent school applications for more than 35 years. The admissions processes currently in place can be 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 downloadable presentation or prospectus. Have a look online to get a feel for the school. All schools run open mornings or evenings; a chance for prospective parents to visit the school and meet key staff. If you're not able to attend one of these in person, look for dates of online tours. If you're still really keen to visit, it's possible the school may allow you to make an individual visit. Read about the best way to approach open days.

  • 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. Would they be best served by a strict ethos or do they need somewhere a bit more laidback. 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. Always take with a pinch of salt but still worth checking, as are Sats results. The Department for Education Performance Tables website carries both:

  • 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 may need to complete a supplementary information form (SIF) providing details of your family’s religious adherence. Regardless of its proximity to your home, many faith schools 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 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. Read our advice on schools appeals.


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