It's been a difficult year for schools up and down the country but even in a pandemic, some things don't change.
Families are still wondering when primary school places are being announced for this year and hoping that their children have scored a place at the local school.
It may sound like it’s all come round a little too quickly but kids are going back to school after lockdown this month under the government’s roadmap. The new school year is fast approaching. It’s finally away with homeschooling and in with normal schooling again, as in-person teaching is back on the timetable (even if children do have to wear masks in the classroom).
So with little ones set to make their first big steps into education among these changes, this year’s National Offer Day, which is when primary school places are announced, is set to be an even more important one.
When are primary school places announced?
Primary school places this year will be announced on Friday April 16 2021.
These offers are generally sent to your home address via letter, so they may arrive a couple of days after April 16. The letter will say whether your child has been offered a place at any of the schools you applied for last year in September.
After you receive the letter, you have two choices: either accept the given offer or appeal the decision. If you want to accept the school you’ve been given, details on the letter will outline how to do this. It’s important to complete the offer by confirming it before the deadline, otherwise your child’s primary school place could be given to someone else on the waiting list. However, the deadline is some weeks away so you have plenty of time to weigh up the options.
If you want to reject the offer and go through an appeal, this is a different process.
What happens if you don’t get the school choice you wanted?
If your child is refused a place at one of the schools you applied for, you can launch an appeal against the decision, according to the government’s website. You will need to follow the instructions on the rejection letter to do this, which is included with the offer letter. The deadline for launching the appeal is 20 days from the date marked on the offer letter.
Although you can appeal the decision and express a preference about the school your child goes to, it’s important to note that you can’t pick and choose the one they attend.
The local council has to provide your child a place at another school if they don’t get a place at any of the schools you’ve applied for. This is usually the nearest school with places still available though and means that you will likely get very little choice in the decision.
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?
If you miss the deadline for applications, your child is less likely to be offered a place at one of their chosen schools as places will be limited.
You have to apply for a primary school place a year before your child is old enough to start school, even if you want them to start part-way through the year. Applications for 2021 opened in September 2020 and closed on January 15.
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. You will need to contact your local council to confirm their rules surrounding late applications.
You can also still apply for a school place once the school year has started. Once again, you’ll have to contact your local council to find out more about in-year applications as they’ll have to tell you which schools still have places and how to apply for them.
Once your child has been offered a place at the school, they’ll likely start at the beginning of the next term rather than mid-way through.