Tips and advice on filling in the school admissions form, advice on listing schools in order of preference, and how to make changes.
Your list of preferences - tips and advice
Our overall aim is to ensure a single offer of a school place is made on the national offer day and that we meet your highest preference wherever possible. We have a good record of meeting parental preferences, however not all children will be offered a place at the school named as their highest preference. It's important therefore that you fill in your list of preferences with care.
If you need more guidance about choosing schools to list in your preferences, you can find help and advice here.
The application form asks you for a list of up to five preferred schools. We strongly recommend that you list at least three and ideally five schools, and that you list them in order of preference. Listing only one school, or the same school more than once, will not increase your chances of obtaining a place at that school and may lead to you being allocated a place at a school you would prefer your child not to attend.
If you submit a form but do not list any preferences, we will allocate a place at the catchment school for your address, or if it is oversubscribed, the nearest school with a vacancy, applying the oversubscription criteria where appropriate.
Yes. However, do remember that if the school is oversubscribed, the oversubscription criteria will apply, and children living in catchment may take priority. Find out more about how catchment areas work here.
Remember that places at secondary schools are based on your home address, not the primary school your child will, or may, be going to. If your child attends a primary school which is not your normal catchment area school, then depending on your circumstances when the time comes, your child may not be able to transfer to secondary school with their friends.
Please note if you list a school which is not your catchment school you will be responsible for transport arrangements and any associated costs for the duration of your child's time at that school.
It is important that you do not rely on existing education transport services when choosing a school. This is because a school service may have no spare seats for non entitled pupils, the capacity can be reduced or the service can be removed depending on the number of entitled pupils who are travelling. Find out more here about school transport.
Do I have to include my catchment school in my preferences at all?
We recommend that you do include in your list the catchment school for your home address.
If you do not list the catchment school as a preference it may fill up with children whose parents have listed it as a preference. If we are then unable to offer you your preferred school or schools, we would have to look at the next nearest school with places available, and this may be further away from your home.
Parents who have expressed a preference for a school will be considered first. However, each school has a limit of how many pupils it is allowed to take. If the number of preferences passed this number, then the school is oversubscribed. In that case, the oversubscription criteria will be applied.
One of the oversubscription criteria is catchment area. You can find out more about catchment areas here. Also, you can find out more detail about the oversubscription criteria and how they work here.
You can also download statistics for admissions to each school in previous years, which might give you an idea of how likely it is that a particular school might be oversubscribed this year. The number of applications varies from year to year. This means that even though your neighbour's child or even an older brother or sister of your child was offered a place at a particular school in a previous year, it does not guarantee a place will be allocated this year.
The equal preference system
We operate an equal preference with ranking system in line with the school admissions code. This is a national model designed to make sure, as far as possible, that parents' or carers' preferences for particular schools are considered fairly, equitably and consistently.
Equal preference requires the admission authority to consider all preferences received for a particular school (first, second, third, fourth and fifth) equally and, where the school is oversubscribed, apply the oversubscription criteria. Where more than one preference can be met, the local authority will offer the highest ranking preference.
If you live within another local authority but would like a North Yorkshire school, we will try and accommodate your preferred school however we do not need to do this if:
- this would affect the education of other children because the school is oversubscribed;
- your preferred school is an academy, a voluntary aided, foundation or trust school and meeting your preference would not be in line with their admission arrangements; or
- the arrangements for admission to the preferred school are based totally or partly on your child's academic ability, and meeting your preference would not be in line with the school's selection arrangements.
General questions and answers about your application
If you would like your child to attend a school which is state funded, the law states you must make an application for admission.
Neither the local authority nor the school will assume you want a place and reserve one for you; even if you have an older child attending the same school, your child attends a nursery class at the school or you live next door to the school.
Responsibility for a child's education rests with the parents.
In England, education is compulsory but schooling is not, therefore you have a right to educate your child at home. However, you have a legal duty to ensure your child receives an education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs they may have.
If your child has never been to school, you do not need to take any action prior to commencing home based education. If you are planning on homeschooling your child, you can find more information about how to proceed here as well as information about advice and support we may be able to offer you.
However, if your child is already in school and you decide to homeschool, you must de-register them by informing the head teacher, in writing, of your intention to educate your child at home. Your child's name will be removed from the register and the school will have no further responsibility for your child's education. The head teacher will inform the local authority of your decision.
If you are applying to 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 direct for further details.
If you would prefer your child to attend an independent school you should still complete a common application form, naming the independent school as well as any other schools you may be interested in. We will consider any preferences for a North Yorkshire school according to the order of preference however we will not co-ordinate admissions with any independent school nor offer a place there.
We will offer a place at a North Yorkshire school even if you have not named one on your common application form. This is because we have a duty to ensure a school place is available for every North Yorkshire child, unless you confirm in writing to the admissions team, before the national offer day, that you have accepted a place at an independent school.
If you accept a place at an independent school after the national offer day, please also inform us in writing that you are declining the school place we may have offered you, so that the place may be offered to another child.
There are a number of benefits to applying online:
- it is quick, safe and secure;
- it is available 24/7;
- you can use a computer, a tablet or your mobile phone;
- you will receive an electronic acknowledgement once you have submitted your application; and
- you will be able to find out which school your child has been offered on national offer day.
Free access to the internet is available at all North Yorkshire libraries. You can find your local library here.
If you are unable to access the internet or have poor reception in your area, paper copies are available on request. Please be aware that if you apply using the paper copy, notification of a school place will be posted 2nd class on national offer day which, allowing for postal times, means that you will find out your allocation a day or two later than online applicants.
If you require help completing the common application form, or cannot complete it online and need a paper copy, please contact the admissions, transport and welfare team.
Below is a glossary of terms used throughout the admissions web pages.
- 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 County Council. When referring to foundation, trust or voluntary aide 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.
- Common Application Form (CAF)
This is the form used by parents to list their preferences when applying for a school place.
- 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 Reception classes, 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, for example, agreed at a meeting of the admission authority and recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
- Education, Health and Care Plan (see also Statement of Special Educational Needs)
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. (DfE, 2015)
- Governing Bodies
These are corporate bodies of people responsible for the strategic management of the school, ensuring accountability and monitoring and evaluation.
- Grammar Schools (designated)
These are the 164 schools designated under Section 104(5) of the SSFA 1998 as grammar schools. Grammar schools select their pupils on the basis of academic ability.
- 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 County Council.
- 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.
- Oversubscribed School
This is a school where more applications have been received than there are places available.
- Oversubscription Criteria
This refers to the conditions or priorities 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 which were looked after, but ceased to be so because they were adopted or made the subject of a Child Arrangement Order (CAO) or Special Guardianship Order (SGO, immediately following being in the care of a local authority.
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.
- Education, Health and Care Plan (previously known as Statement of Special Educational Needs)
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.
- Summer Born Children
The term 'summer born' refers to children born between 1 April and 31 August each year.
Sources: DfE, 2015