Every child aged between 5 and 16 is entitled by law to a place at a state school. Wherever possible children are offered a place at one of their preferred schools, but this can’t be guaranteed. Every school has an admissions limit, and this determines the number of applicants they will accept.
All schools have ‘admissions criteria’ which the school’s admission authority uses to allocate places if they receive more applications than they have places available.
However, the School Admissions Code says that children in public care must be given top priority. Examples of some other criteria that might be used might include:
- a child has a brother or sister who will be at the school when they start
- a child lives in the area served by the school or their home is close to the school
- for religious or faith schools, a child or family is of the particular religion or faith served by the school
- for some secondary schools, a child attends a linked primary school
- Admissions authorities might also use a system of random allocation or ‘banding’. Banding helps to ensure that a school has pupils with a range of different ability levels.
Certain types of school may apply other admission criteria:
- church or faith schools may ask for confirmation of attendance at a relevant place of worship
- grammar schools and some other state schools select a proportion of their pupils on the basis of academic ability, awarding places on the basis of an entrance exam or selection test
- schools that award a percentage of their places to pupils with an aptitude for certain subjects may use some form of assessment or audition where appropriate
- boarding schools may interview a child to assess their suitability to be a boarder (interviewing is not allowed for admission into any other type of state-funded school)
- If a child is in line for more than one of their chosen schools, they will be offered a place at the school ranked highest on the application. If none of their chosen schools offers a place because other applicants met the criteria more closely, the local authority should offer a place at another school.
A useful resource for those looking for more information on state education is https://www.gov.uk/schools-colleges