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A Guide to Primary School Admissions in the UK

Choosing the right primary school for your child is a significant decision for any parent in the United Kingdom. It’s the first step in your child’s educational journey, and the school you select can have a profound impact on their development. This blog will guide you through the primary school admissions process in the UK, providing valuable information and tips to help you make an informed decision. 

Understanding the System 

The UK’s primary school admissions process can be complex due to its diversity and the fact that it is managed by different education authorities in different regions. Understanding the system in your specific area is crucial. It’s worth noting that there are three types of primary schools in the UK: 

  • Community schools, which are funded and managed by the local authority. 
  • Voluntary-aided schools, which are usually affiliated with a religious group but are state-funded. 
  • Academies, which are independent of local authority control but receive government funding. 

 Key Dates and Deadlines 

Admissions typically open around the autumn term of the year before your child is due to start primary school. Deadlines for applications may vary by local authority, but common deadlines are around mid-January. It’s essential to check the specific dates for your area and ensure you submit your application on time. 

Applying for Primary Schools 

Most primary school admissions are managed through your local authority, and you’ll need to complete their application form. Online applications are increasingly common and convenient, but paper forms are usually available if needed. Remember to list more than one school in your order of preference, as this can increase your chances of securing a spot. 

Criteria for Selection 

Schools use specific admission criteria to determine which students to admit if they receive more applications than available places. These criteria may include proximity to the school, siblings already attending, and special educational needs. Understanding the criteria for each school you’re interested in is crucial. 

Visit Schools and Gather Information 

Visiting schools is vital for getting a feel for their environment and understanding their ethos. Many schools offer open days or tours, which provide an excellent opportunity to ask questions and meet the staff. You can also gather information from Ofsted reports and school websites to assess their performance and values. 


If you don’t secure a place at your preferred school, you have the right to appeal. The appeals process can be complex, so be prepared to provide strong reasons for why your child should attend that school. 

Choosing the right primary school for your child is a critical decision that can shape their educational journey. The UK’s primary school admissions process may seem daunting, but with the right information and preparation, you can navigate it successfully. Remember to understand the local system, adhere to deadlines, research schools, and seek advice when needed. Ultimately, your child’s well-being and development are at the heart of this process, so make your decisions with their best interests in mind. 

Let us make a difference!  

At Cornerstone the assignee experience is our priority. Through our education consultancy, we will evaluate school options and provide information about individual school performance. We can also arrange school site visits – where permitted –  we have you covered! We can also help with international schools – check our blog about this and contact us today to find out more! 

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