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. For example, schools may give priority to children:

  • who have a brother or sister at the school already
  • who live close to the school
  • from a particular religion (for faith schools)
  • who do well in an entrance exam (for selective schools, for example grammar schools or stage schools)
  • who went to a particular primary school (a ‘feeder school’)
  • in care or being looked after (all schools must have this as a top priority)
  • who are eligible for the pupil premium

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

Children with special educational needs (SEN)

If your child has SEN their statement or education, health and care plan will recommend a school for them. If you apply there, the school must give your child a place.

Complain about unfair criteria

Contact the Schools Adjudicator if you think a school has unlawful admission criteria.

You must do this by 15 May.

  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.