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The Application Process Explained

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 29 Mar 2021 | comments*Discuss
Primary Secondary Local Education

A lot of first-time parents will not be aware as to how the applications process works when it comes to placing their child in school. Indeed it may be the case that some parents are embarking on the applications trail for a second time and there may well have been some changes since last time around. With that in mind we would like to help explain the applications process without the jargon.

Before You Apply

This may sound incredibly simple but it is worth going over again just to be sure. Before you apply to your local education authority for a place at a school you should make a list of the schools you have in mind. Remember it is important not to limit yourself to one school because this makes the process all the more stressful especially if the school you have chosen has a high intake or is very popular in your area.

Visit the schools you have chosen attend open days and speak to parents and teachers alike where possible. This is the best way to start on the applications ladder and will make that all important application all the easier.


In this age of modern technology the applications process can be carried out in several ways. Of course there is the normal pen and paper method but most local education authorities and schools alike are equipped with websites which will provide you with useful information regarding catchment areas and such like as well as being one of the places where you can download the relevant application forms or indeed fill them in online.

Some schools require supplementary forms to be completed and these can either be located on their website or will be sent to you via post upon contacting the school.

It is also important to note that when applying for primary school places you should start the process in the autumn before their fourth birthday and likewise if they are attending secondary school this process should commence in Year 6 or earlier. Time is of the essence so it is important to plan ahead and apply in plenty of time to increase where possible your child’s chances of getting that all important place.

For secondary schools many local education authorities set their deadline for admissions in November or December of the year before your child is due to take up their place should they be awarded it.

Obviously in applying for a position at a particular school there may be a chance that your application is declined. This can be for any number of reasons and we will be covering this in further articles.

Other Considerations

We have entitled this section ‘Other Considerations’ because sometimes, depending on the school you wish your child to attend there are other things that come to the fore that may not have automatically shown up in the first place.

Such things include the requirement by faith schools that you provide them with documentary evidence that your child has been practising or at least attending the church or house of worship that a particular faith school requires. It is worth mentioning also that some faith schools can take onboard a number of non-denominational pupils. You can find out more about this particular issue in our article under the Faith & Religious Schools section of this website.

Also it is worth noting that some schools operate under what is called a ‘banding’ system and as such if you require a place at such a school your child may be requirement to sit some tests upon which their chances of a placement will be assessed.

Some schools admit a number of pupils based on their particular aptitude for a specific subject and again your child may be required to sit some tests if that is the case.

Overall however if you begin the applications process sooner rather than later and carry out some basis research into the schools available in your area and the types of school available in your area, the process should be relatively hassle and stress free.

But in saying that it is always good to allow extra time for error or unforeseen circumstances which as we all know can cause problems and undue stress.

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Hi We are planning to move to London in Dec 21/Jan 22 from Singapore. My daughter is 15 years by Jul 2021. Which class should she go in if we want to apply in Jan 22 as we might miss a term and will it be easy for the student to pick up for the academic year and GCSE exams Thanks Hema
Hema - 29-Mar-21 @ 3:48 PM
Is this website operating? I see questions here I would also like answers to but I see no responses? In addition I see one question for each year respectively, 2019, 2018 and 2017 surely there must be morequestions / discussion than this? Thanks in advance for any response. David
David - 22-Jan-20 @ 10:34 AM
What kind of application process need to follow for a 15 y/o student who is immigrating from Turkey. Do I need to speak to a secondary school or Local Education Authority? Can you please give some advice... Thank you. Kind Regards
MAX - 26-Apr-19 @ 7:19 PM
We are moving to London from abroad (EU country) next summer June. We have 1 child 11 years. What should we do to apply our children to school? Is it possible to apply in advance without being resident in UK? Thanks a lot in advance for your help
tiikva ja mola - 6-Apr-18 @ 1:17 PM
Could someone please tell me how to try for a boarding school for two of my children, boys from India currently in Class 5 & class 6., in an English Medium School at Delhi. Thank you ! Kayvee
Kayvee - 27-Feb-17 @ 3:52 PM
My grandson is 11 and as I have missed out on applying for a place for him this year, what do I need to do for him to be accepted into a boarding school when he is 13. We are British but currently live abroad so he is schooling abroad. I would like to start the process as soon as possible. Thanks.
Nikky - 30-Mar-14 @ 12:36 PM
We are moving to London from abroad (EU country) next summer (July/August). We have 3 children (9, 7, 4 years old). What should we do to apply our children to school? Is it possible to apply (or pre-apply) in advance without being resident in UK? Thanks a lot in advance for your help
Francesco - 9-Apr-12 @ 9:56 PM
How is the application process for people caming from abroad? We area moving to London on july and we have to kids, one goes to primary and the other to secondary, both are talented.I undestard you need to stablish a residence before applying but that is not going to be, in our case, sooner than july. Thanks for any help
Vanina - 22-Jan-12 @ 4:18 PM
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