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Primary School Admissions in the UK

Deciding what school your children will attend is an important decision, and not one to be taken lightly. Schools offer various curricula and teaching methods even at primary level, and may also focus on particular subjects or practice a certain faith. Primary school admissions criteria are regulated by local authorities to ensure an even distribution of education, but admission policies can differ depending what your local authority gives priority to in terms of education.

Admissions Criteria

Most local authorities for primary school admissions give priority in the following order:

  • Children who have a sibling currently attending the primary school;
  • Children who live close to the school or in the school's Priority Admission Area and have a sibling already attending the school;
  • Children who live in the Priority Admission Area, with no other siblings attending the school at the date of application;
  • Children from a particular religion (faith schools only).

The order may be changed in regards to Priority Admission Areas and siblings in some local authorities. However, allprimary schools must give top priority to children who are in care or being looked after.

School Performance

It's important to look at the individual performance of each primary school before placing a choice on your common application. OFSTED reports are especially helpful is establishing whether a school is truly as good as they claim to be.

Some schools will offer specialist subjects, or have more facilities for different subjects. Primary schools do not usually place as much emphasis on specialist subejct areas like high schools do, but if you are aware of any particular interests or talents you child already has you should consider a specialist subject school as your primary choice.

Performance Discrepancies

There has been some controversy in the UK in regards to faith schools, who statistically have higher perform than standard primary schools. This is usually because a particular area religion will be highly supported by local authorities, and faith schools have access to more funding in some cases. Although the government and some local authorities make every effort to ensure school admission policies and levels of education throughout certain areas are on par with one another, some faith schools remain statistically better than others.

However, you should never lie on an application about your child's faith, nor try to apply for faith schools as a top preference alone; children of other faiths will be admitted if spaces remain, but it is often better to have the best standard primary school listed on your application above faith schools which receive a higher number of applicants.

Deadlines and Complaints

Take notice of application deadlines, as these may vary depending on your local authority. A local authority will do everything in their power to ensure primary school admissions policies are fair and every child is matched to the best school, but if you feel a particular policy is unfair or a decision was wrong, you can contact you local authority and launch a complaint.

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