The coronavirus pandemic may be creating uncertainty around all aspects of education, but things are still ploughing ahead for the new school year regardless.
Primary school places are announced this week, months after many will have applied for primary schools for their children.
Earlier this year, families across the UK found out about secondary school places. But this week marks a significant moment for young children and their families.
Even though UK schools are closed at the moment, today, 16th April, is when parents will receive confirmations from councils for primary school places for children starting in September.
It means that kids and parents will be finding out which schools they will be attending for the next six years – and while some will be delighted, others may be left disappointed.
When do you apply for primary schools – what was the deadline?
Applications for primary school places opened all the way back in September 2019 (they open in September each year), and the deadline for applications is 15th January.
However, applications open on different days in different councils – so be sure to visit your local council website for more information on applying, if you’ve not done it this year.
Children generally start primary school the September after they turn four, but this decision can be re-considered if you feel your child is not quite ready yet, or if they are at the lower age bracket of the school year.
Primary school places: How to find out what primary school your child has got into
As mentioned, councils will send offers of primary school places today, on 16th April.
These will generally be sent via letters to your home address, but you can also check your local council website for more information.
Gov.uk explain that if you are happy with your offer, you must accept it by the deadline given in the letter. If you don’t, the offer may be withdrawn, and the place may be offered to someone else.
What happens if you don’t get the school choice you wanted?
The local council must offer your child a place at another school if you don’t get offered a place at any of the schools that you have actually applied for. However, it means that you will likely get little choice in the decision.
If you are unhappy with the school choice you have been offered, it’s important to note that although you are able to express a preference about the school your child goes to, you can’t pick and choose which one they attend.
But, you can appeal a school rejection if you wish. Gov.uk says that if your child is refused a place, you can appeal against the decision. You will need to follow the instructions on the rejection letter to do this. You are allowed 20 days from the date of the decision letter to appeal.
If you do appeal, you will then need to submit information and evidence to support your appeal against the rejection. A panel at your appeal hearing will also hear your reasons against the rejection – and they will also be able to share with you the reasons they did not give your child a place at the school.
What if you missed the deadline for primary school applications?
The government website, gov.uk, notes that “Your child is less likely to be offered a place at their chosen schools if you miss the deadline for applications.”
In some councils, if you have missed the deadline, you can still submit your application until the end of March, though it will be considered a late application. Once again, you will need to contact your local councils to confirm the rules surrounding late applications.
And, you can still apply for a school place once the school year has started. You will need to contact your local council to do this, but be aware that the choice of schools with places still available will be limited.
When do schools re-open?
Of course, during the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a lot of uncertainty about when schools will re-open.
And there has still been no confirmation on a date that they will return.
Some speculate that schools may re-open in May, while others are unsure that they’ll be back before September.
Keep checking our page for the latest information.