It’s not always easy to choose a school for your child, or to get your child into the school of your choice if it is popular or oversubscribed.
Admissions worries and appeals are an ongoing part of Service life. AFF is continually providing evidence to policy makers, including local authorities and the Department for Education, to try to improve your experience of the admission process.
Please email email@example.com if you have any comments to make, or issues to discuss.
It can be stressful getting your child, or children, into your chosen school, or even into the same school.
The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) has parent support advisors who can help you through the admissions process; email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 1980 618244 – make sure you include your child’s name and date of birth.
For more information on CEAS, click hereBack to top
The Gov.UK website gives information on all types of school in England and has a link to each of the devolved administrations; look at OFSTED or the equivalent inspection reports for more information.
The type of school your choose directly affects where you apply for a place; for maintained schools you apply to the local authority (LA) and for academies, faith schools and free schools, you apply directly to their own Admissions Authorities – the school’s website will have more details on this.
The year group also directly affects where you apply for a place. If you are applying for a Reception, Year 3 – for those areas that have junior schools, or Year 7 place, then it is likely that the LA will coordinate all admissions.
Your home address provides you with a Home Authority. They deal with your application including applications to maintained schools outside their boundary; fill in either a paper or an online application form – the process is the same. The school admission form may have a Service child box; make sure you tick it. Please be aware that a Service child may be referred to as child of a Crown Servant on this form.
You’ll receive an allocations letter either from the LA or Admissions Authority, which should give details of the place you have been allocated, your right to appeal and the date by which you will need to let them know. Keep to this date and let them know if you wish to accept the place.Back to top
Moving to somewhere outside England?
The Admissions Authorities are called Education and Library Boards; there is an AWS Children’s Education Support Officer who can help you. Telephone: 028 9226 6347.
Apply through the LA website i.e. Edinburgh City Council website. There are not usually any difficulties for Army families applying for local schools in Scotland.
The Welsh Government website has links to all councils in Wales. Visit gov.wales
Use the pan-London eAdmissions site: This eAdmissions scheme is recognised by all 33 London Local Authorities and also Surrey County Council. NB: This site sometimes closes for maintenance outside the normal admissions round.
Look at the MOD Schools website and contact the MOD Schools themselves. You can also contact CEAS for more information.Back to top
Every year, the Local Authority sets admissions deadlines. The following are examples of dates for September admissions for Year R and Year 7.
If you’ve not been able to apply for a school place by the deadline due to postings etc. then let the LA know as soon as you know where you are posted to.
If you make a late application before offers of places have been made, it’s worth asking for your circumstances to be taken into consideration.
If you don’t know where you’ll be living in September, apply in the area you currently live by the deadline.
When you know where you are going to next, and have an assignment order, let the LA know and ask for an in-authority transfer. This may not give you priority, but it should save you at the very least having to write out all the forms again.
You don’t have to wait for your new SFA address; you can use a unit address if applicable. You may be classed as a late application, but they will let you know when you will hear about the school place allocation.
The School Admission Code says that it’s up to the Admission Authority or LA to decide how they will deal with late applications, and many cite ‘exceptional circumstances’ as a reason for accepting a late application.Back to top
If you’ve been given one of the schools on your preference list, that’s great. However, if you haven’t, then you may wish to appeal
The School Admission Code 2014 for England has now been published. AFF was involved in the consultation, and now Army families are mentioned in more places in the code, which is great news.
In summary, children eligible for the Service Pupil Premium can receive priority (along with other groups of children) in oversubscribed schools, and Service children feature on the priority list for state boarding school admissions.
Bear in mind that this is now under a consultation process for many Admissions Authorities across England and so may not feature in the admissions criteria of your school just yet.
School Admission Code 2014 references applicable to Service children, in brief:
To read the code in full, click here.Back to top
The Armed Forces Covenant is designed to negate disadvantage experienced by Service families, particularly due to mobility. The covenant won’t automatically secure you a place at your first-choice school, but it will help in ensuring that you have been treated fairly and without disadvantage in comparison to civilian families.Back to top
If you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly, or that you’ve been given the wrong information, and would like to make a formal complaint, contact the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) via www.gov.uk/schools-admissions/appealing-a-schools-decisionBack to top
The following is a list of the most frequent questions we receive about finding a new school for your child, and our responses.
What should I do when I find out we’re moving?
I don’t have an address yet so can I still apply?
Yes. The School Admission Code states that schools and Admissions Authorities must accept either a unit address or, if appropriate, a ‘quartering area’ address (the address of the closest house in the nearest “quartering area”) for applications from Service personnel in the absence of your new postal address. However, when the Unit address is in a different LA to your new home address, this system doesn’t apply.
In this case, you will usually have to be physically living at the address before you can apply.
Our first choice of school is an Academy. Does this make a difference to applying for a school place?
With Academies, families normally apply directly to the school for a place unless it is for Reception or Year 7. In these years, the LA may coordinate the admissions. Academies (including Free Schools) are required to comply with the Schools Admissions Code 2014 as a condition of their funding agreement.
We have been posted to London. Which LA do I contact?
Some families find themselves housed in an unknown area or can find themselves on the edge of a borough and want to apply to schools in more than one LA. This is how the system works:
What if my child does not get into the school of our choice?
The information on this webpage will take you through the process. You can also contact the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS).
Put your child’s name on the waiting list if one is operated; some schools insist on having a formal written letter.
A child’s place on a waiting list is determined by how closely, in relation to the other children on the list, they match the published admission criteria for the school (usually found in the school’s prospectus). This may mean you move up or down whilst waiting for a place.
You can also appeal; information on how to appeal will be contained in the letter you receive from the LA.
It’s always worth going to visit the school that you have been allocated because it may be just as suitable. It’s difficult to assess a school entirely by its website and online information. Also consider widening the area you are looking in.
Remember: schools in an area with a military presence tend to have a high turnover, so it is always possible that a place will become available.
I am looking for an infant class place and all the schools I have applied for are full. What should I do?
Every child is entitled to a school place. Apply in the usual way; the information found on this page can help you.
How do I get all my children into the same school?
Sometimes you may be allocated more than one school for your family; it’s possible to appeal for a school place to enable them to all be together.
Certain groups of children may appear higher up the admissions criteria for individual schools, so take a look at the school’s website for more details.
AFF recognises that it’s impossible to be in more than one place at the same time. It is also not acceptable for a child to be late because of this. If this applies to you, please email email@example.com as we are interested to hear about your experience.
I am moving from one devolved area to another and don’t know which year my child will be in?
Please click here for a link to our table that highlights the different year groups depending on birthdays.
My child started school in England and is now going to be in a nursery class in Scotland – is there anything I can do?
Because education is a devolved issue, the school years, school times, year groups and curriculum are all different.
Whilst it’s not ideal that a child who has started school is going into a new nursery class, remember that the class will be filled with children who are the same age as your child, they will all start the new school together in Scotland and the curriculum is age appropriate.
Please contact CEAS and with details of your child’s name and date of birth for more advice on this.
It is also worth speaking to the new nursery and asking them about how they support new children; they may well have had experience of this already.
What shall I put in my appeal letter?
There are four key words for appeal writing: history, reason, impact and result.
Think about why your preferred school is better and more suitable for your child rather than why the allocated school is not. Consider including information about:
Appeal letters should always be written by you, as you know your children best.