Schools admissions: glossary of terms used

A guide to the language, jargon and abbreviations used in the school admissions process.

Academic year

A period of time commencing 1 August and ending 31 July the following year, as defined by Section 88M of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (SSFA 1998).

Admission authority

This is the body responsible for setting and applying a school's admission arrangements.  In respect of community or voluntary controlled schools, this means the local authority - North Yorkshire Council.  When referring to foundation, trust or voluntary aided schools it means the governing body of the school and for academies it means the academy trust.

Admission arrangements

The overall procedure, practices and oversubscription criteria used to allocate school places.

Catchment school

This is the school allocated by the local authority from the geographical area in which your address falls.  This may also be referred to as the 'normal, local or appropriate' school for your home address. A catchment area is part of a school’s admission arrangements and must therefore be consulted upon, determined, and published in the same way as other admission arrangements.  

Common application form CAF

This is the form used by parents to list their preferences when applying to start primary, junior or secondary school.

Co-ordination scheme

The process by which local authorities' co-ordinate the distribution of school places in their area.  All local authorities are required to co-ordinate admissions for the normal year of entry into schools, that is, entry in primary, transfers from infant to junior schools and transfers to secondary schools.

Determined admission arrangements

Admission arrangements which have been formally agreed by the admission authority.

Education, Health and Care Plan

An Education, Health and Care Plan - EHCP - is for children and young people who need additional support over and above that available through special educational needs support.  The plan identifies educational, health and social needs and details the level of support required to meet those needs. You can ask your local authority to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an EHCP. (DfE, 2015)

Excepted pupils

It is our policy that infant classes (key stage 1) should be restricted to no more than 30 children with a single school teacher in accordance with the school admissions code 2021. Additional children may be admitted under limited exceptional circumstances. These are referred to as 'excepted pupils'.  

Governing bodies

These are corporate bodies of people responsible for the strategic management of the school, ensuring accountability and monitoring and evaluation.

Infant class size 30

Infant classes (key stage 1) where the majority of children will reach the age of 5, 6 or 7 by the end of the academic year must not contain more than 30 pupils with a single class teacher (apart from certain limited exceptions – see excepted pupils above).

In-year admission request

An in-year application for a school place is an application when your child is already of school age and wishes to transfer from one school to another. This may be when you are moving to North Yorkshire, moving house, or requesting a change of school for any other reason.

Local authority - LA

This is the local government body responsible for the education service in its own area.  In respect of North Yorkshire, this is North Yorkshire Council. A child’s Home Local Authority is the Local Authority in whose area the child resides.

Local Government Ombudsman - LGO

An independent, impartial and free service which investigates complaints of maladministration by certain public bodies, for example, local authorities.

Looked After Children - see also Previously Looked After Children

These are children in the care of a local authority as defined by Section 22 of the Children Act 1989.  In relation to school admissions legislation a 'looked after child' is a child in public care at the time of application to school.  

National Offer Day

The day each year on which local authorities are required to send the offer of a school place to all parents of children who, on 1 September that year will start school in reception class, transfer from infant to junior school, or transfer to secondary school.

For secondary school transfers this is 1 March each year, or the next working day if the 1 March falls over a weekend or on a public bank holiday.  For primary schools it is 16 April each year, or the next working day if the 16 April falls over a weekend or on a public bank holiday.

Normal age group

The age group to which children are normally admitted, as determined by their date of birth.

Normal year of entry

The normal year of entry is the year group that children start school at the beginning of the academic year. For example, Reception for Primary schools, or Year 7 for Secondary schools. You must apply for a school place in the normal year of entry by the deadlines set by your Local Authority.

Oversubscribed school

This is a school where more applications have been received than there are places available.

Oversubscription criteria

This refers to the published criteria that an admission authority applies when allocating places for an oversubscribed school.  It determines which children will be allocated places at the school.

Previously Looked After Children - see also Looked After Children

Previously looked after children are children who were looked after, but ceased to be so because they were adopted, made the subject of a Child Arrangement Order (CAO),or Special Guardianship Order (SGO), immediately following being in the care of a local authority, or a child who was in State care outside of England prior to being adopted.

Published Admission Number - PAN

The number of school places that the admission authority must offer in each relevant age group of a school, for which it is the admission authority. Admission numbers are part of a school’s admission arrangements.


The term 'sibling' refers to a brother or sister, adopted brother or sister, half-brother or sister, step-brother or sister, or the child of the parent/carer's partner where the applicant child is living in the same family unit and at the same address as the named sibling.

School adjudicator

An independent officer who is appointed by the Secretary of State for Education. The Schools Adjudicator decides on objections to determined admission arrangements of all state funded schools and variations of determined admission arrangements for maintained schools. The Schools Adjudicator also deals with referrals of directions by local authorities to maintained schools to admit a child and provides advice on requests to the Secretary of State by local authorities to direct academies to admit children

School year

The period beginning with the first school term to begin after July and ending with the beginning of the first such term to begin after the following July, as defined by Section 579 of the Education Act 1996

Summer born children

The term 'summer born' refers to children born between 1 April and 31 August each year.

Waiting lists

A list of children held and maintained by the admission authority when the school has allocated all of its places, on which children are ranked in priority order against the school’s published oversubscription criteria.

Types of schools

Nursery school or class

Nursery schools are for children aged 3 and 4. They have their own head teacher and staff. Some are state-funded, and others are privately run (though your child might be eligible for a free part-time place). Attendance at nursery school does not guarantee your child a place at the attached or nearby primary or infant school. You should apply directly to the Nursery for a place.

Infant school

An infant school is for the education of children between the ages of five and seven years. It includes the school years of reception, year 1 and year 2 and is usually a small school serving a particular area and is usually located near to a junior school.

Junior school

Most junior schools cater for pupils moving from infant schools, from the September following their seventh birthday until the start of secondary school, covering the school years 3 to 6 inclusive.

Primary school

Primary schools admit children from the ages of 5 through to 11 and encompasses the school years 1 to 6 as well as reception.

Secondary school

Secondary schools admit children from the school year 7 onwards. They may continue until year 11 or go straight through to year 13 if they include a sixth form.

Academy schools

Academies are directly funded by central government and are independent of the local authority. Academies manage their own assets, employ their own staff and determine their own admission arrangements. The school may be part of a multi-school academy trust which shares policies through all schools in the trust.

Community schools

The school governors are responsible for the strategic management of the school, including appointing staff and managing the school budget. The local authority and the governors share responsibility for maintaining the school buildings. The local authority determines the admission arrangements for community schools.

Faith schools

Faith schools can be various types of schools for example, academies, free schools, voluntary-aided schools etc. but are associated with a particular religion. Faith schools are free to restrict religious studies to their own particular religion. Anyone may apply for a place at a faith school however the admissions criteria may include certain faith based requirements

Voluntary schools

These schools are funded by voluntary organisations including religious institutions and educational trusts or foundations. All have foundation governors appointed to protect and develop the religious or educational character of the school. There are two types of voluntary schools, voluntary controlled and voluntary aided.

Voluntary controlled schools

Although funded by voluntary organisations, the local authority fully maintains these schools. School assemblies are in line with the trust deed however, religious education is in line with the locally agreed syllabus. In most matters the board of governors has the same duties and powers as those of community schools but the local authority determines the admission arrangements.

Voluntary aided schools

Both religious education and assemblies are in line with the trust deed. The board of governors determines the school's admission arrangements, term dates and appoints staff however, it shares responsibility with the local authority in respect of maintaining the school buildings.

Foundation schools

Some foundation schools were previously known as 'grant-maintained' schools. The schools governors are responsible for the strategic management of the school, including appointing staff and determining the school's admission arrangements.

Free schools

Free schools are funded by central government and are independent of local authorities. They are 'all-ability' schools and may not use academic selection as part of their admissions process. Free schools are run on a 'not-for-profit' basis and may be set up by groups such as parents, teachers, businesses, or charities.

Independent schools

Independent schools are privately run, and charge fees to attend instead of being funded by central government.

These schools determine their own admission arrangements and should be contacted directly for further details. We do not handle their admissions process or offer places to them.

It is helpful if you can let the admissions team know if you are only applying to independent schools for your child.

Grammar schools

The term 'grammar' historically used to refer to selective schools. Now, the term sometimes means selective school, as in Ripon and Skipton. However, other schools may still use the term 'grammar' but without being selective, such as Harrogate Grammar School and Tadcaster Grammar School.

Selective schools

Within North Yorkshire there are three selective schools:

  • Ripon Grammar School
  • Ermysted's Grammar School for Boys (Voluntary Aided)
  • Skipton Girls' High School (Academy)

To be considered for admission into these schools, your child must first, be deemed ‘suitable’ following a series of tests designed to identify academic potential.

Special schools

To attend a 'special school' your child will need to have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). These schools may specialise in one of the four areas of special educational needs:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • sensory and physical needs

You cannot use the standard application form to preference a special school.

You will need to approach your child's SENDIASS coordinator to start a consultation process.

Targeted Mainstream Provision - TMP

This is a mainstream school which provides additional support for a small number of pupils with special educational needs or disabilities, to allow them to access a mainstream curriculum with additional specialist staffing and resources.  The Targeted Mainstream Provisions are in both primary and secondary schools to support children and young people with social, emotional and mental health and communication and interaction needs.

Trust schools

A trust school is a state-funded foundation school supported by a charitable trust, made up of the school and partners working together for the benefit of the school. It manages its own assets, employs its own staff and sets its own admission arrangements

University Technical Colleges - UTC

A university technical college is a government funded school open to young people aged 14 to 18. A university technical college is designed to integrate technical, practical and academic learning and is supported by industry and a local university to deliver its curriculum. Each UTC handles its own applications. Visit the Baker Dearing Educational Trust website for more information.