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How school admissions and school admissions appeals work

Finding a school place can seem like a daunting prospect, for both you and your children. This guide gives you step-by-step advice on how the process works for state schools, what you need to do, and when.

Select a stage of the process to learn further information about what's involved, together with tips to save you time and worry, and sources of further information or support.

  1. Step 1

    All schools differ in size, character and approach. It may be that there are many schools which are suitable for your child, and your preferences will be based on the 'feel' of the place. There are also a number of schools in our area which can offer specialist help and support with particular learning, physical or emotional needs.

    If your child has a physical disability or special educational needs (SEND), you may know about this from birth, or it may become apparent in their early years. If you think there is anything unusual about your child's development or abilities, we strongly recommend talking to your health visitor, doctor or anyone involved in their care as early as possible. You will be better able to find the best school for your child, and they will have a better start there, if their needs are clearly identified.

    Having a disability, a statement of special educational needs (SEND) or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) does not necessarily mean that your child will not be able to attend a mainstream school. It may mean that they are entitled to a higher priority for a place at their designated school (the nearest school which can cater for their needs), and additional support in class.

    If your child has special educational needs (SEN)

    Once your child has a diagnosis, you should contact your SEND Co-ordinator ('SENCo') to help advise you whether a mainstream or a special school will be most suitable for their needs.

    The following special schools cover primary and secondary ages, and are only open to those with a SEND statement or an EHC Plan:

    • Fosse Way in Midsomer Norton, which also offers satellite provision for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to take GCSE or A Level courses at Norton Hill School
    • Three Ways and Broadlands School (secondary only) in Keynsham has a special unit for children who need additional learning support

    If you have an enquiry about admission to special schools or special units, please call us on 01225 39 43 06

    If your child has a physical disability

    If your child has particular access needs, the headteacher at any school should be able to advise you about the suitability of their facilities.

    Some older school buildings have poor accessibility, and could not easily be altered. However, we aim to provide at least one modern, fully-accessible primary school in each area of our region, and one secondary school in each of our urban areas, so that no child with a physical disability will have to travel a long way to school.

    Schools with fully accessible buildings and facilities
    Infant, junior and primary schools

    Area

    School

    South Central Bath

    St John's Catholic Primary

    South East Bath

    Mulberry Park Educate Together Primary

    North West Bath

    Abbot Alphege Academy

    Keynsham and Saltford

    St Keyna Primary

    Somerdale Educate Together Primary

    Radstock

    St Nicholas CE Primary

    Trinity Church School

     

    Secondary schools and academies

    Area

    School

    Bath

    Ralph Allen School

    Keynsham and Saltford

    Broadlands School

    Midsomer Norton

    Norton Hill School

    Schools with mostly (but not fully) accessible facilities and buildings

    If you would like to express a preference for a school which doesn't currently meet your child's needs, you should note that we are only able to make small-scale adaptations to make the school more suitable, such as the installation of a handrail or a small ramp.

    If your child has a hearing impairment

    Weston All Saints Primary School can offer extra support for hearing impaired children.

  2. Step 2

    1. You can only apply to attend state schools in the area covered by the local authority where you live (or where you will be living, when your child is attending school). If you're unsure which local authority covers the area you're in, are planning to move to, or a school you're interested in, use the GOV.UK postcode checker to find out.

      Depending on your location and your child's age and particular needs, there may be a number of types of school available. If you're unsure which ones will be most suitable, use our brief guide to educational options to learn more about them.

      Use our Find a school tool to search the GOV.UK schools database, and find the schools of the right type available in your area. Each listing has a school location map and information about the school type and ages taught, which should narrow down your search.

    2. 'Feeder schools' 

    3. If your child is moving from primary school to secondary school, there may be a 'preferred' secondary school that most of their class will go to. We call these primaries 'feeder schools'. Admissions policies for secondary schools may prioritise students transferring from a feeder school. However, this doesn't mean that your child has to go to that school, or that they will get a guaranteed place there. It is very important to research all available local schools, to decide your own preferences for a secondary place, and you will still need to complete an application for a place.

  3. Step 3

    WarningYou must submit an application for your child's school place, in every case. Do not assume that the nearest school, or the one their brothers and sisters have gone to, will automatically offer to take them.

    All schools have admission policies to decide which children will get places, if there are more applicants than school places available. Admission policies may be slightly different for each school, and you can find details on the school website, or via our Admissions Booklet, below.

    Typical admission policy criteria

    State schools must give top priority for places to children who are, or have been, in care, or being 'looked after'. They may also give priority to your child if one or more of the following are true:

    • You live close to the school.
    • You have other children at the school already (including half- and step- brothers and sisters), as long as the family live together as a household.
    • You follow the religion that the school is affiliated to (for faith schools only).
    • Your child is entering a secondary school and went to a particular primary school (a ‘feeder school’).
    • Your child is eligible for the pupil premium or the service pupil premium.
    • You or your partner have worked at the school for two or more years
    • Your child has passed an entrance exam (for selective schools, such as grammar schools).

    Every year, we publish information on B&NES local schools' admissions policies and how to apply for a place, at least 18 months before the date your child would start attending. This means that for any September intake date, the information will be available from mid-March of the year before

    You can view the current admissions booklets below.

    B&NES Primary Admissions Booklet

    B&NES Secondary Admissions Booklet

  4. Step 4

    Twelve months before the September that your child is due to start (or move) school, you should start finding out more about the schools you're interested in. If your child already attends a primary school in our area, we will send you a transfer letter at the start of Year 6. This will give you information about how to make an application and the closing dates, and prompt you to start the process of researching secondary school options. 

    Things you can do to find out more about a school

    All state schools must now have a website, and this should give you a detailed picture of the character of the school. To keep parents informed, and help you to make admissions choices, there are national standards about the information that state schools must publish online. Please contact the school directly if you cannot find the information in the list below on their site.

    Things state school websites must include
    • Admissions policy and arrangements, including how to apply
    • Details of the curriculum
    • Behaviour policy (including policy on dealing with bullying)
    • Links to Ofsted reports
    • Links to performance data
    • The school’s latest Key Stages 2 and 4 attainment and progress measures
    • Their policies for children with special educational needs and disabilities
    • The amount of money they receive to support underprivileged children (the ‘pupil premium’), what they do with it, and the effect it’s had on student attainment
  5. Step 5

    Who to apply to

    For state schools, you will need to apply to B&NES, using our online application service. Even if you're moving to another local authority area or are trying to get a place in a school with another local authority, you'll still need to apply using your current local authority.

    As part of your application, some schools may also ask you to complete a supplementary information form (SIF) and return this directly to the school. Even if you need to do this for some or all of your school preferences, you will still need to complete and submit our online application form

    When to apply

    There are two closing dates for school applications each year, one for primary places, and one for secondary places.

     

    Closing dates for school applications

    Date

    Types of application

    31 October (10 months before the school year starts)

    All secondary places (Year 7)

    Studio schools (Year 10)

    15 January (7 months before the school year starts)

    Infant and primary places (Reception) - including applications for children starting later than September

    Infant to junior transfers (Year 3)

    Middle school transfers (Year 5)

     

    WarningYou must submit your application by the closing date, or it may affect your chances of getting a place for your child at a school you prefer

    How to apply

    Online

    You will need to complete our online school admissions form. You can also log in to this system to change and resubmit an application, and to see the outcome of your application.

    By email

    You can download and complete an application form in Word format (see below). Complete this on your own device, and return it to us by email at admissions_transport@bathnes.gov.uk

    By post

    You can download, print and complete an application form in PDF or Word format (see below), and send it back to us at: School Admissions and Transport Team, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Lewis House, Manvers Street, Bath BA1 1JG.

    Download the form you need

    Download the form you need

    If you're not sure which form you need, please contact us, and we will be back in touch to help.

    We will ask you to state your school preferences in order (up to a maximum of three for primary schools, and five for secondary schools). It is extremely important that you carefully consider and number your preferences, as there is no guarantee that your child will get a place at your first choice school.

    Do not write the name of your first choice school more than once on the application form. The school will not see your preference, and it will not affect your child's chances of gaining a place there. However, if more than one school is able to give your child a place, you will receive an offer from the school which you ranked higher in your preferences. 

    WarningWe strongly recommend including your nearest school as one of your preferences, even if you only consider this to be a 'backup option'. If you don't, and your child doesn't get a place at one of your preferred schools, you may only get an offer for a school which is further away and more difficult to travel to.

    You can find further information and detailed guidance on how to complete the application form in our school admission booklets below.

    B&NES Primary Admissions Booklet

    B&NES Secondary Admissions Booklet

    Apply for a school place

  6. Step 6

    WarningDue to COVID-19, we're currently holding school admissions appeals online via Zoom. We will send you instructions on the process if you make an appeal.

    There are national dates for announcements about school place offer decisions.

    School place allocation announcements

    Date

    Types of school place

    1 March

    All secondary places (Year 7)

    Studio schools (Year 10)

    16 April

    Infant and primary places (Reception) - including applications for children starting later than September

    Infant to junior transfers (Year 3)

    Middle school transfers (Year 5)

    If these dates fall on a weekend or a public holiday, we will issue offers on the next working day.

    If you applied online, you will need to log in to your account to see the decision. You will only receive a letter if you made a paper application for your child's school place, or if you receive a refusal of a place at one or more of your preferred schools.

    If you accept the offer

    Respond to your offer, following the instructions that come with it. You will hear from the school in due course about arrangements for your child to start attending. Once you have accepted an offer, don't forget to apply for free school meals and school transport, if you think your child will be eligible.

    WarningYou must accept the offer by the deadline we give you. Otherwise we may withdraw the offer, and give the school place to someone else

    If your child gets a refusal letter

    Please read the statement of options, to tell you what you can do next, and how to do it. You will need to visit one of the following pages detailing school place allocation statements and appeals.

    Primary school place allocation statements and appeals

    Junior school place allocation statements and appeals

    Secondary school place allocation statements and appeals

    How to appeal

    You'll have 20 school days from the date of your child's school place refusal to appeal. You can lodge one appeal against each of the schools on your preference list who have refused your child a place. 

    You will need to appeal to the school admissions authority. This will depend on the type of school:

     

    Type of school

    Admissions authority

    Community and voluntary controlled schools

    B&NES Schools Admissions team

    Voluntary aided schools

    School's governing body

    Academies

    Academy trust

    There is a statutory process for appealing against a school place refusal. You can find out what's involved on the GOV.UK website, which also offers guidance on your rights if you're considering an appeal.

    WarningThe law says that there should be no more than 30 children in primary school classes. If you're planning to appeal against a primary school place refusal, you should be aware that if the school has already filled these 30 places, it is extremely unlikely that your appeal will be successful.

     

  7. Step 7

    You are responsible for ensuring that your child can get to school on time each day. School transport may be available, and may be free of charge, depending on the age of your child, your family circumstances, and the route from your home to school. 

    We will assess this automatically for all children starting Reception (primary school) or Year 7 (secondary school), and will contact you to let you know. If your child lives at more than one address, we will need to check their eligibility from each address separately.

    WarningEven if they are eligible, you will still need to apply for your child's school transport

     

  8. Step 8

    If your child will be attending a school in Bath and North East Somerset and you are receiving certain benefits, they will be eligible for benefit-related free school meals. The government gives schools extra funding, called the pupil premium, based on the number of children who are eligible for this support. So it's essential to apply for free school meals immediately when your child starts school.