All children in England aged between five and 16 years of age are entitled to a free place at a state school. Parents have the right to have some say as to which schools their children attend, but there are laws dictating the terms of these choices. Different schools have admissions criteria depending on how they are run with independent and private schools being held to separate laws to the ones described below. This article will concentrate on state schools.

The Schools Admissions Code is a legally binding code, so if a person believes that a school or local authority has not obeyed the rules, it is possible to refer the case to the local authority or the Schools Adjudicator.

The admissions process is managed by the local authority who will set the deadline for applications to schools. Then each school has its own admissions authority that sets admission arrangements annually and decides on the oversubscription criteria used to allocate places if there are more applications than places.

The School Admissions Code says what information a school can and cannot ask for when they are making a decision about applicants. They can ask for:

Information that will help them to process an application (e.g. proof of address)

Information about any other siblings already in attendance at the school

But they cannot ask for:

  • Personal details about you
  • Your child’s personal details
  • Money to support the school
  • Your efforts in supporting the school