Statutory guidance

School admissions code

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

Applies to England


School admissions code 2021


Following public consultation and the Parliamentary process, a new school admissions code came into force on 1 September 2021.

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
  • academy trusts
  • schools adjudicators
  • admission appeal panels

It applies to:

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

It covers:

  • admission arrangements
  • applications and offers for admission in and outside of the normal admissions round
  • 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.

Further information about school admissions is available.

Updates to this page

Published 19 December 2014
Last updated 11 March 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated 'What is an Education, Health and Care plan?' section of 'Admission of children of crown servants: explanatory note'. Removed lines on EHC plans if a family moves abroad.

  2. Updated 'Admission of children of crown servants: explanatory note' to bring it in line with the new School Admissions Code 2021. Added information to help Crown servant families who have children with SEND.

  3. Updated to remove the 'School admissions code 2014'. This is replaced by the 'School admissions code 2021', which came into force on 1 September 2021. Key changes include new provisions to support the in-year admission of vulnerable children and help reduce to a minimum any gaps in their education.

  4. Updated the 'Fair access protocols: advice for local authorities and school admission authorities' to clarify when fair access protocols can be used on page 4.

  5. Added 'Schools admission code 2021', 'Fair access protocols' and 'Admissions priority for children adopted from state care outside of England'.

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

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

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

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

  10. First published.

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