How to apply

Follow your local council’s application process to:

You must still apply for a place, even if the school is linked to your child’s current nursery, infant or primary school.

Apply directly for:

  • a 6th form place at a school or college
  • a place at a private school

Moving to another area

You apply through your local council even if you’re applying for schools in another council area or you’ve just moved to England.

If you’re applying from another country, contact the local council in the area where you’re going to live.

You may need to:

  • supply proof of your new address, for example a mortgage or rental agreement or deeds for the property
  • prove that you’ll live in the area before the start of the next school term

Completing the application

When you fill in the form (online or on paper) you’ll be asked to list the schools you’re applying for in order of preference.

Listing only one school will not increase your chances of getting a place there.

To get a copy of the application form on paper, contact your local council.

When to apply

Applications open on different days in each local council area. Find out from your local council when applications open for primary or secondary schools.

Applying for a primary school place

You must apply for a primary school place a year before your child can start school.

Applications open in September and close on 15 January. Your child will be 3 or have just turned 4 when you apply.

You’ll need to apply then even if you want your child to start part-way through the year.

Applying for a secondary school place

The deadline for applying is 31 October.

Your child is less likely to be offered a place at their chosen schools if you miss the deadline for applications.

When you’ll find out

Councils will send offers of school places for:

  • primary schools on 16 April
  • secondary schools on 1 March

If either date falls on a weekend or a bank holiday, offers are sent the next working day.

You must accept the offer by the deadline given in the offer letter. Otherwise it may be withdrawn and the place given to someone else.

The local council must provide a place at another school, if your child is not offered a place at any of the schools you’ve applied for. This is usually your nearest school with places still available.

Applying after the start of the school year

Contact your local council to find out about applying for a school place once the school year has started (known as in-year applications). They can tell you which schools still have places and how to apply.

Once your child has been offered a place, they will usually start school at the beginning of the following term.

  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.