Which children get priority

If a community school or an academy receives more applications for school places than it has available, a list of five rules is used to decide which children get offered a place first.

These rules are known as school admission priorities.

Read our school application guides for more information.

1. Looked after children and all previously looked after children

This includes those children who appear (to the council) to have been in state care outside of England, and stopped being in state care because they were adopted.

A child is regarded as having been in state care outside of England if they were in the care of, or were accommodated by:

  • a public authority
  • a religious organisation
  • any other provider of care whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society

'Previously looked after' children are children who were adopted (or subject to child arrangements orders or special guardianship orders) immediately following being 'looked after'.

To show your child fits in this priority you will need to provide proof of your child’s status.

2. Children who have a medical or social need

Some children have a medical or social need that can only be met at a specific school. 

To show your child fits in this priority you will need to provide independent evidence that shows why your child’s needs can only be met at your preferred school.

3. Children who have a sibling link and live in the catchment area

Sibling link includes brothers and sisters as well as other children in the home who share the same main address.

The main address is usually where your child is registered with a doctor.

4. Children who live in the catchment area

Your child's main home address needs to be in the catchment area.

You can check secondary school catchment areas on our schools map.

5. Other children who apply

Other children includes all children who do not fit in the first four priorities listed above.

If more children in each priority apply than there are places available computer software is used to randomly decide who should be offered a place first.

Other schools

Church voluntary aided and free schools use their own rules to decide which children get offered a school place first.

More information

View our school application guides for more information.