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How to apply for a school place

How to apply for a school place National Information - 11:46 02/09/22

Advice Information Links

How to apply for a school place:

Any families returning to or moving to the UK should speak to the local authority (often referred to as the council) school admission team in their chosen areas for information on how to apply for a school place. Local authorities should support parents in choosing schools, which includes providing information on where schools have vacancies and how to apply.

We provide detailed, step-by-step advice for parents arriving in England on how to obtain a school place in annex A to the Guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK.

In England most children start school full-time in the September after their fourth birthday although parents can choose to defer their start until the start of the term after they become 5. This applies to families arriving from Ukraine too. Find out more about compulsory school age here.

To obtain a school place, you must first apply for one.

Families in England can contact their local authority for:

  • advice on how to apply for a school; and
  • information on which state-funded schools in their area have empty spaces

When parents apply for a school place, the School Admissions Code states that admission authorities should aim to notify parents of the outcome of an application for a school within 10 school days and that they must do so within 15 school days.

Where there are no vacancies within a reasonable distance of the child’s home, the local authority must place the child quickly under its in-year Fair Access Protocol (FAP).

FAPs exist to ensure that vulnerable children who are struggling to secure a school place through the normal admissions routes, are able to access one as quickly as possible. All admission authorities must participate in their local FAP, this includes admitting children when asked to do so via the FAP. The School Admissions Code sets out the categories of children that are eligible to be placed via the FAP, which includes children of refugees and asylum seekers.

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