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Guidance on applying for a school place

Contents

How to apply

Apply for a place at a primary, infant or junior school

Apply for a place at a secondary school

The person applying should be the person with parental responsibility for the child. If you are unsure of your status you should submit your application with a covering letter explaining your situation.

You must apply to the local authority in which you live, regardless of which schools you are applying for.

Make only one application for each child. If you apply more than once for the same child, we will consider only the most recently submitted application form received before the deadline.

Apply online

Making an online application lets you:

  • See all information in one place
  • Make changes to your application right up until the deadline
  • Send scanned/electronic documents in support of your application
  • Accept or decline a school place offer online

We use the eAdmissions website to manage all online school admissions. You will need an email address to apply online and regular access to your emails as you will be sent emails to confirm that we have received your application and to let you know the outcome on the offer date.

Don't forget to click submit after completing your application online. You will receive a confirmation email listing your preferences and an application reference number. Please check this email carefully to make sure your application details are correct. Whilst you can make changes to your application up to the closing date, it may not be possible to fix mistakes after the closing date.

If you apply online you can download the 'ParentComms mobile app' to your mobile device and receive notifications about your application, including the outcome.

Alternatively, you can opt in to receive text messages by registering your mobile phone number online. If you register for text alerts you will not receive your outcome by text - you will need to login to your online application to view the outcome. 

Apply on paper

For a paper application form contact us on 0300 200 1015.

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Choosing schools to apply for

Children in Surrey can go to:

  • an infant school (between the ages of four and seven)
  • a junior school (between seven and 11)
  • a primary school (between four and 11).
  • a secondary school (between age 11 and 18). Surrey secondary schools are comprehensives and cater for all abilities.

Types of school

  • Academies - independent of the local authority and funded directly by the Department for Education. An academy can set its own curriculum.
  • Community - maintained by the local authority.
  • Foundation - state funded school run by its own governing body.
  • Free school - a type of academy set up by a group, such as parents, teachers, charities, community groups and businesses.
  • Trust - a type of foundation school, which forms a charitable trust with an outside partner.
  • Voluntary aided - maintained by the local authority but strongly supported by the church authorities (usually Church of England or Catholic)
  • Voluntary controlled - maintained by the local authority but with close links with the church authorities. Some of the governing body is appointed by the religious foundation.

The local authority is the admission authority for community and voluntary controlled schools, whilst a school's governing body is the admission authority for academies, foundation, free, trust and voluntary aided schools. Admission authorities are responsible for setting and applying admission arrangements. Check what type a school is by using our directory of Surrey schools.

When it comes to selecting a school, find out as much information on it as you can. Read the school's brochure and visit the school's website for details on policies, achievements and Key Stage 2/GCSE results.

If you would like to visit the schools you are considering, please contact them directly.

Visit the Ofsted website to see a school's Ofsted results.

Admission criteria

When considering schools to apply for it is very important you look at the schools' admission criteria and consider the likelihood of your child being offered a place. A summary of the admission criteria for Surrey schools is published in our booklets:

These booklets also include the number of pupils each school intends to offer a place to for the next school year, known as the published admission number (PAN) and information on how places were allocated for the previous year.

Where it applies, the booklets also show the furthest distance each Surrey school offered places to last year under their last offered criterion. However these distances are provided as a guide only. There is no guarantee that for September 2017 admission a school will offer to the same distance as in the previous year because each year it depends on the number of applications, where the applicants live and how many places are to be offered.

Check the distance from your home to a school on our school map.


School transport

Think about how your child will get to school and check if they qualify for free home to school transport.

Eligibility for free transport is not linked to the admission criteria of a school. For example, some schools give priority for a school place to children who are attending a feeder school but this does not confer an automatic right to free transport.

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Completing your application form

The address to use

The address on the form must be the child's current permanent place of residence, usually the parents' address.

  • If the parents do not live together, the address is where the child spends most of their time usually the address of the parent receiving child benefit (where applicable). If there is equal shared custody of the child, it is left to the parents to decide which address to use.
  • You should not use a business, relative or carer/childminder's address.
  • We will not accept a temporary address if the main carer of the child still owns a property that has previously been used as a home address, nor if we believe it has been used solely or mainly to obtain a school place when an alternative address is still available to that child.
  • An application can only be made from one address and only one application per child can be made.

We will need proof of where you live - usually your council tax number, or if you are not responsible for council tax, some alternative evidence, which should be a copy of your signed tenancy agreement and a utility bill.

We will check the address on your application against the records we hold for your child's current school and we may also check council tax records or write to ask you to provide proof of your address.

We will investigate any applications where there is doubt about the address being given. Use of false information may lead us to withdraw an offer of a place, even after a child has started at a school. More information on how we will investigate applications is available in our Address of Convenience Assessment Protocol (PDF) and if you wish to make a referral please use the Address of Convenience Referral Form (PDF).

If you change your address after applying

Any offer of a school place based on where your child lives, is conditional on your child living at that address on the application closing date (or a different date if specified by the school) unless we have accepted a subsequent move, for allocation purposes. If you move after applying you must let us know and provide us with proof of your new address - see our advice for primary applications and secondary applications.

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Your preferences

  • You can name:
    • up to four schools if you are applying for a place at an infant, junior or primary school
    • up to six schools if you are applying for a place at a secondary school
  • Naming as many schools as possible increases your chances of being offered a place at a preferred school.
  • We recommend naming schools your child is most likely to be offered a place at. These are likely to be schools which, had you applied last year, would have been able to offer a place under the school's distance criteria. This will increase your chances of being offered a place at a local school and will reduce the chance of having to consider less preferred schools that might be further away.
  • You must name the schools in order of your preference (this information is not shared with schools so does not disadvantage your application).
  • If your child is leaving Year 2 of an infant school, you can only name schools with a Year 3 intake on your application form.  
  • Do not include any private or independent schools. You should apply to these schools directly.
  • If you are applying for schools outside of the Surrey County Council area you must still name these schools on your Surrey application form. For details of schools outside Surrey contact the relevant local authority.

Whilst we have a responsibility to make a school place available to each Surrey child, it may not be at one of your named preferences or at your closest school.

Your 'reasons for preference'

The application form has space for you to give a reason for naming a school as a preference but you do not have to complete this. Any information included will be considered but reasons given will not usually affect how places are prioritised.

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Siblings

If you believe your child is eligible for sibling priority at one of your preferred schools, you must include their details on your application.

Siblings at community and voluntary controlled schools

For community and voluntary controlled schools we define a sibling as:

  • brother or sister with the same parents whether living at the same address or not
  • half brother or sister living as part of the same family unit at the same address, Monday - Friday
  • adopted or fostered brother or sister living as part of the same family unit at the same address, Monday- Friday
  • step brother or sister living as part of the same family unit at the same address, Monday- Friday

If you fail to tell us about an eligible sibling in your application this could result in your child receiving a lower priority for a school place. Siblings must already be on roll at the school you are applying for (or another school which operates a shared sibling priority) and be expected to still be on roll at that school (or if you are applying for an infant school, a junior school which has both a feeder and sibling link with the school you are applying for) on the date of the child's admission.

For community secondary schools with a sixth form, a sibling in Year 11 or 12 at the time of application will usually be considered as being in the school at the time of their sibling's admission unless the parent has specifically expressed they will not be continuing the following year.

Siblings at academies, foundation, free, trust and voluntary aided schools

Academies, foundation, free, trust and voluntary aided schools may have different definitions of siblings. Contact these schools for details of their sibling criteria.

Looked after and previously looked after children

Children who are looked after or were previously looked after by a local authority, receive top priority for a school place. If your child meets one of the following definitions, please indicate this on your application and include supporting evidence from the child's social worker:

  • Looked after children are those who are registered as being in the care of a local authority or provided with accommodation by a local authority in accordance with section 22 of the Children Act 1989(a) at the time an application for a school is made, for example, children who are fostered or living in a children's home.
  • Previously looked after children are those who have previously been in the care of a local authority in accordance with Section 22 of the Children Act 1989(a) and who have left that care through adoption, a child arrangement order (in accordance with section 8 of the Children Act 1989 and as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014) or special guardianship order (in accordance with section 14A of the Children Act 1989).

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Applying under exceptional medical or social criteria

If you wish to apply under a school’s exceptional medical or social criteria you must provide relevant information, including medical evidence, to support your case at the time of your application. The exceptional social or medical circumstances might relate to either the child or the parent/carer. Supporting evidence from a professional is required such as a doctor and/or consultant for medical cases or a social worker, health visitor, housing officer, the police or probation officer for other social circumstances. This evidence must confirm the circumstances of the case and must demonstrate why the child should attend a particular school and why no other school could meet the child’s needs. If you are applying for exceptional priority for a school that is not your nearest, you must explain why nearer school cannot meet your child's needs.

Providing evidence does not guarantee that a child will be given priority at a particular school and in each case a decision will be made based on the merits of the case and whether the evidence demonstrates that a placement should be made at one particular school above any other.

Common medical conditions and allergies can usually be supported in all mainstream schools, therefore priority  would not normally be given for these. Some mainstream schools have units attached which provide specialist provision for children with an Education, Health and Care Plan which names the school. The facilities in these units are not normally available to children in the mainstream school and as such priority under a school’s exceptional social or medical criterion would not normally be agreed for a mainstream place on the basis of a specialist unit being attached to the school.

In addition, routine child minding arrangements would not normally be considered to be an exceptional social reason for placement at a particular school.

We reserve the right to refer medical evidence to our designated medical officer, where necessary, to assist us in making a decision about medical priority for a school place.

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Supporting evidence

If you have a council tax account number this must be provided with your application. If you do not have a council tax account number (for example some private tenants, or armed forces families living in service family accommodation in the United Kingdom) you must provide alternative evidence of your address with your application which should be a copy of your signed tenancy agreement and a utility bill.

For primary applications

Evidence to support applications under exceptional medical or social criteria must be provided with your form by 15 January 2017.

Evidence received after that date may be considered only if it could not reasonably have been provided by 15 January 2017 but will not be accepted beyond 10 February 2017. Any evidence received after 10 February 2017 will not be considered until after the initial allocation of places.

For secondary applications

Evidence to support applications under exceptional medical or social criteria must be provided with your form by 31 October 2016.

Evidence received after that date may be considered only if it could not reasonably have been provided by 31 October 2016 but will not be accepted beyond 12 December 2016. Any evidence received after 12 December 2016 will not be considered until after the initial allocation of places.

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Supplementary information forms

Some Surrey schools need you to submit a completed supplementary information form in addition to the application form. It provides the school with extra information relevant to its admissions criteria, to help it when considering your application. Your application will still be considered if you don't provide any required supplementary information form. But it may mean your child receives lower priority for a place as the school can only consider the information on your application.

You can check our directory of Surrey schools to find out if a school asks for a supplementary information form and download a copy. Find out the closing date for the return of each form by checking the form or by contacting the school. If you are applying for schools outside Surrey, contact the school or relevant local authority directly to check what supplementary information forms may be needed.

Submitting a completed supplementary information form is not a valid application unless you also name the school as a preference on the local authority's application form.

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Admission of children outside their normal age group

If you would like your child to be educated outside their normal age group, the admission authority for each school will consider your request based on your child's circumstances and what is in your child's best interests. You must state clearly why you feel admission to a different year group is in your child's best interest and provide evidence to support this. You can contact the local authority for advice, and also see Surrey's guidance on the education of children out of their chronological year group (PDF).

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Children with special educational needs and/or disability (SEND)

We treat applications for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities in the same way as all other applications, unless they have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) or a statement of special educational needs (SSEN).

If your child has an SSEN or an EHCP, you must follow the procedure for applying for a school place for a child with an EHCP or an SSEN.

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Applying for a Surrey school from outside Surrey

Other local authorities in the United Kingdom

Each local authority has its own application form. You must complete the form for the local authority where you live regardless of which schools you are applying for.

Applying for children from abroad

If you and your child live abroad, you may only apply for a school place if your child:

  • holds a full British Citizen passport (but not a British Dependent Territories or British Overseas passport) or
  • is an EEA national (all member states of the European Union together with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) or
  • is a Swiss national (Swiss nationals have the same right to live and work in the United Kingdom as EEA nationals); or
  • has a passport which has been endorsed to show that they have the right of abode in the UK.

If you have a property in the UK you should apply to the local authority for that address. If you do not have a UK property you should apply to the local authority where your preferred school is situated. You must apply by the deadline and provide information about where you are living and when you intend to return. We will initially consider the application based on your child's address abroad and any subsequent change will be considered in line with our change of address policy. See our advice on this for primary applications and secondary applications.

For other children without automatic right of entry to the UK, an application can only be made once the child is in the country.

For more information please read our guidance on admission of children overseas (PDF).

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Applications from Members of the Armed Forces and Crown Servants

Members of the Armed Forces and Crown Servants with automatic right of entry to the UK who are able to provide evidence of their relocation may apply for a school place ahead of a move. For Armed Forces applications we will use the unit posting address when considering the application. For Crown Servants a UK address can only be used if there is evidence of the address the child is returning to.

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  • Updated: 30 Nov 2016
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