Admission criteria

All schools have admission criteria to decide which children get places. The school or local council usually set these.

Admission criteria are different for each school. They may give priority to children:

  • who live close to the school
  • who have a brother or sister at the school already
  • from a particular religion (for faith schools)
  • who pass an entrance exam (for selective schools, for example grammar schools)
  • who went to a particular primary school (a ‘feeder school’)
  • who are eligible for the pupil premium or the service pupil premium
  • whose parent has worked at the school for 2 years or more

Your local council can give you information about schools’ criteria and how to apply.

Children in care

All state-funded schools must give top priority to admitting children who:

  • are in care or being looked after
  • have been in care

Complain about unfair admission arrangements

Contact the Schools Adjudicator if you think a school has unlawful or unfair admission arrangements.

You need to complain by 15 May of the year before you’re applying for a place. For example, to complain about admission arrangements for September 2021 the deadline is 15 May 2020.

  1. Step 1 Find out if you can get help with childcare costs

  2. and Find where you can get childcare

  3. Step 2 Get help paying for childcare

    You can get help with childcare costs for children under 18. You might be able to apply for:

    You could also get free hours childcare when your child is aged 2 to 4. You might be able to apply for:

    You can only get childcare vouchers if you have already joined a scheme.

    1. Check the rules for childcare vouchers
  4. Step 3 Check what to do if your circumstances change

    Tell government straight away if your circumstances change and you're getting:

    If you're getting 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare you have to confirm if your details are up to date every 3 months.

    1. Sign into your childcare account to find out when you next have to check your details

    Your eligibility for support with childcare costs might also change.

    1. Check if your eligibility for help with childcare costs has changed
  5. Step 4 Check what to do when your child reaches school age

    Your child starts primary school the September after they turn 4.

    1. Apply for a primary school place
    2. Find before and after school and holiday clubs

    You might be able to use help like tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare to pay for childcare like wraparound care, after school clubs or other activities.