Every council has a local education authority LEA.

  • In every LEA there is an admissions department which is responsible for pupil admissions to that authority.
  • You can locate your admissions department on your LEA’s website, or by phoning your local council.
  • The LEA issues an admissions booklet/guide and a central application form. Usually these are distributed through primary schools but you can request copies directly from the LEA.
  • The application and admissions  process begins in September the year before your child starts secondary school.
  • The application form must be completed by the end of October the year before your child starts secondary school.
  • You will be asked to list at least three secondary school preferences.
  • In all authorities you will receive your offer of a place no later than 1st March of the year that your child starts secondary school. You will receive the offer of only one school.

The LEA handles applications to all their schools through a central  application form. Some schools will require you to complete a supplementary form along with the central form. Normally, you can get the supplementary form directly from those schools. The schools that require a supplementary form are usually those that select and academies.

Admissions booklet/ guide

  • LEAs must publish an admissions’ guide to all the state-funded schools in the LEA, by the 12th September. The guide must include
    • admissions arrangements
    • supplementary information

for each of the state-funded schools.

  • LEA booklets or guides often tell you whether each school is over or under-subscribed.

School over-subscription/ admission  criteria

  • If a school does not select, is under-subscribed and is your first preference, then you should be allocated this school. If a school is over-subscribed then  each school has  its over-subscription/ admission criteria.
  • Some LEAs have shared admission criteria for the majority of their schools.
  • Admission criteria are dictated by national guidelines, the School Admissions Code, but do vary between schools. The priority categories for admission, have to be:

1. Children in care.

2. Children with a statement of special needs.

  • The next categories for admission are often:

3. Children who live nearest to the school/in the catchment area.

4. Children with siblings at the school.

5. All other children.

  • There are other categories:
    • grammar schools select by ability.
    • some schools select a quota of pupils with particular aptitudes. The quota can be no more than 10%. The aptitudes can be
    •      physical education or other sports
    •      the performing arts, or any one or more of those arts
    •      modern foreign languages, or any such language
    •      design and technology and information technology
    • children of teachers at the school.
    • church or faith schools usually select according to a particular faith or denomination. Some academies are church schools.
    • named feeder schools.
    • some schools use the system of ‘banding’ selecting students so they get spread of pupils of different abilities or from the local area.
  • LEAs or individual schools operate catchment area systems. If they do operate a catchment system however, this does not guarantee you a place if you live in that catchment. It depends on the nature and number of applications for a school each year.
  • Some authorities or individual schools do not operate catchment areas, but use the ‘nearest to the school’ system. With this system, the more oversubscribed the school is, the shorter the distance of residence from the school for acceptance.
  • LEAs or individual schools must  maintain waiting lists for  at least the first term of the academic year of admssion. These are maintained in the order of their over-subscription criteria. This information sisexplained in the LEA admissions’ booklet.
  • If you want to apply for a school outside the LEA where you live, every LEA has to operate a system for managing such requests.
  • LEAs cannot and do not offer a first come first served admissions’ process. There is no advantage in getting your application in early.
  • Church schools are allowed to interview prospective students and their parents to assess religious commitment. Otherwise, state schools are not allowed to use interviews to assess applicants.
  • It is important to note that the Head teacher does not ‘choose’ their students. In some situations, such as that of church schools, the governing body makes decisions on admissions’ issues. The Head teacher is likely to be a member of the governing body, but cannot make decisions on their own.

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