Eduction is high on the agenda for most parents.  Some even move house before getting pregnant in order to secure the ‘right school’ for their child.

The whole experience can be very new and daunting so we’ve put this information together to try and dispel the myths around the primary school admissions process.

Do I need to put my newborn baby’s name down for a school?

No – Putting your child’s name down on a school waiting list will have no impact on whether they get into the school or not.  The only benefit to doing this, is that you will then be on the school mailing list.  They will then contact you when they have an open day a year before your child is due to start school.

Does going to the preschool guarantee entry to the school?

No – this makes no difference what-so-ever.

When is my child due to start school?

In the September after their 4th birthday.  It is that simple.  You can however delay their start depending on the individual school’s policy.  Your child must have started school by the age of 5.

My baby is born in the summer, can they start school later?

In short, yes.  We have a new Summer Born feature dedicated to the subject.

How do I choose a school?

A good way to find out about a local school is to look at their most recent Ofsed report.  These are helpfully published on the Ofsted website.  However, these can be a bit technical and quite boring to read.

The Department for Education has launched a new web tool helping parents find and compare local schools’ performance. It significantly improves parents’ ability to choose the right school for their child.  The ‘compare schools’ tool brings together a wide range of performance data in a single place.  For more information, visit

Ultimately, you need to look round the school yourself with your child and decide what you think.  If you miss the open day, do not despair!  Just ring the school and make an appointment to visit.

Other factors to consider are:

  • how close is the school to your home and how easy it will be to walk there
  • do any of your child’s friends go to that school
  • does the school have a nursery
  • how much outside space is there

Bradford Education publish a booklet for parents whose child is about to start school.  This has lots of useful information about the admissions process.  It also lists the number of applications for each school and the furthest away successful applicant.  A copy of the booklet is available here.

What criteria is used to determine who gets a place?

In general terms, places are allocated in the following order:

  1. Children in public care
  2. Children who have an older sibling who will be attending the school when they are due to start (and live at the same address)
  3. Children who live near the school

Some schools have a ‘priority admission area’ (e.g. Ben Rhydding school).  They prioritise children who live in this area.

Faith schools often prioritise children whose parents are regular churchgoers.

For example, All Saints Primary School in Ilkley allocate up to 50% of their remaining places (once they have taken children in public care and siblings) to children whose parents are practising members of a Christian church.  By practising, they mean that you need to go at least once a fortnight for 3 years.

Similarly, East Morton CE primary school prioritise children who live in their priority area AND whose parents are members of a Christian Church.

How does the primary school application process work?

  • Step 1 – Choose your school(s)

A year before your child is due to go to school, is a good time to look round your local primary schools.  Many schools will have open days.  Others, arrange for you to go round the school individually.  Simply ring the school and ask for details.  For contact details of your local school, visit the Eduction Bradford website or Education Leeds website.

  • Step 2 – Fill out the application form

Around November/December of the year before your child is due to start school, you will be asked to complete an application form (online or paper form).  You will need to name your top 5 primary schools in order of preference.  Make sure you put down 5 schools – if you don’t get in to your preferred school, you could be sent to an under-subscribed somewhere else in the district.

If you are applying to schools across more than one council area (e.g.: Leeds and Bradford), you apply to the council to whom you pay your council tax, but include schools from other areas on your form.

When you complete the form online (takes about 10 mins to do), you have the option to save your preferences but you can go back and change them right up until the closing date.

  • Step 3 – WAIT for the decision

It takes the local authority until around April time to decide which child goes where.  You’ll get a letter or an email to tell you.

What if I move house between the application date and the start of school?

If you are moving house between now and when your little one starts school, here are a few tips.

Bradford council’s website says:

  • If you have recently moved house, you need to provide proof of your new address
  • If you are about to move and want to be considered from your new address, you’ll need proof of exchange of contracts or a rental agreement on the new property
  • If you can’t provide the above by February 2013 (6 months before the start of school), you’ll have to be considered from your current address.
  • However, you MUST tell them if/when you do move.

What should you do if you’re not happy with the decision?

You have a right to appeal against the decision.  This is worth doing if you have genuine reasons – e.g.: you have twins and they have each been sent to a different school.

If your reason is that you just like the other school better, it might just be worth going on their waiting list and sitting it out until a place becomes available.  This may be after school has started in September.

How does it work for independent primary schools?

 Moorfield School says:

Children can join Moorfield School in any year group at any time of year. We take children from the age of rising two and a half to eleven years.

You then need to submit a Registration Form together with the £30 Registration fee.  Provided there is room for your child in the appropriate class for her age and there is no apparent reason for the school not to offer a place, we will write with a formal offer of a place at Moorfield School.

In order to reserve a place for your child, complete and sign the Acceptance Form and return to the School along with your deposit for £150. This deposit will be set against your final bill at Moorfield and you will receive a cheque for the balance.

Ghyll Royd School says:

Children are welcome to join Ghyll Royd at any point in the school year and into any class. We accept children from the age two until eleven years of age. To apply you need to submit a Registration Form together with the £100 Registration fee. If we have space in the year group that you wish to join we would then normally offer you place and put this is writing to you. We would then arrange settling in days if appropriate and contact you to agree a start date.

More information

There is useful general information on the direct gov website.

For local information, visit your local authority’s website:


If you’d like to add useful tips to this article or comment on it, please contact us.