Statutory guidance

School admissions code

Statutory guidance that schools must follow when carrying out duties relating to school admissions.



The school admissions code 2021 will come into force on 1 September 2021. The current code will continue to apply until then.

This school admissions code is for:

  • headteachers and school leaders
  • school staff
  • governing bodies
  • local authorities
  • admission authorities of maintained schools as defined in section 88(1) (a) and (b) of the School Standards and Framework Act (SSFA) 1998
  • schools adjudicators
  • admission appeal panels

It applies to:

  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • academies and free schools

It covers:

  • admission arrangements
  • applications and offers
  • ensuring fairness and resolving issues
  • relevant legislation

It also features an admissions timeline.

You should read it alongside the ‘school admission appeals code’.

Statutory guidance sets out what schools and local authorities must do to comply with the law. You should follow the guidance unless you have a very good reason not to.

Free movement with the European Union (EU) ended on 31 December 2020 and there are new arrangements for EU citizens. The reference to EU law in paragraph 2.19 of the schools admission code 2014 should therefore be discounted.

The explanatory note provides information about school places for children of public officials returning from overseas.

Further information about school admissions is available.

Published 19 December 2014
Last updated 13 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Schools admission code 2021', 'Fair access protocols' and 'Admissions priority for children adopted from state care outside of England'.

  2. We have updated the School Admissions Code 2021 with a correction slip, in relation to the footnotes in pages 36, 38, and 39.

  3. Updated to include the school admissions code that applies from 1 September 2021.

  4. Updated to note that reference to EU law should be discounted from 31 December 2020.

  5. Added an explanatory note about school places for children of public officials returning from overseas.

  6. First published.