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Securing a state school place for your child: in-year admissions

As a parent moving to London outside the usual school application window, you will have to get to grips with the in-year admissions process. Find out how to secure your child a place at your preferred school when you make the big move. 

Securing a state school place for your child: in-year admissions

The state school application process can be a bit of a minefield at the best of times: form filling, deadlines, different admission criteria, and the anxious wait to see if you get lucky. What if you’re moving to London and need to secure a place for your child outside of the usual admission window?

Securing a place at your preferred school to coincide with your move to the UK capital is dependent on two key factors: you must have a UK address before you can apply for a place at a state school, and once that is in place you must keep everything crossed as you embark on the in-year admission process – when parents apply to a school outside the normal admissions round and at a time when their child should already be attending school.

In-year admissions

Begin by taking the usual steps to decide which schools in the area you are moving to will be your preferences:

  • Talk with your child – involve them as much as you can
  • Visit schools – contact the school for visiting dates
  • Think about the journey – how easy will it be to get to and from the school? 
  • Check the admission criteria and catchment area

Once your research is complete and your mind made up, you can typically list up to six schools on an in-year application form, in order of preference. Forms can be found on your local authority website – which is determined by your address. They might also provide a vacancy list (not all do, though), so you can check if there is a space at your chosen school in your child’s year group.

While admission criteria vary from school authority to school authority, the process typically looks something like this: 

  • Your child will be considered for a place at each of the schools named as a preference on the application form you submit to your local authority. 
  • All decisions are then made by the admission authority for each school listed. 
  • If it’s possible to offer your child a place at more than one of the schools listed as a preference, the rank order of your preferences will be considered, and you will be offered the highest of those that can be offered.
  • If it’s not possible to offer a place at any of the preferred schools listed on your form, your child will be allocated an alternative place at the closest school to your home address that has a place in your child’s year group.  

While school applications are competitive in a metropolis like London – where catchment areas cause parents to do what it takes in pursuit of their preferred school – you might get lucky outside of the usual admission window. After all, the UK capital is home to a transient population, meaning spaces sometimes become available as people move away.

Get help from the experts

Relocation specialists Simply London can guide you through the state school selection and application process. We offer two options, depending on your requirements:

  • School phone consultationadvice on schools, admissions and the general process.
  • Full school search package – an in-depth, bespoke service that’s tailored to your family’s requirements. 

Want to be fully prepared to find your next home in London? Buy and download our self-help guides!

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Guide to State Schools in London

All the information you need to find the right London State School for your child, and apply successfully: top state schools; when and how to apply; catchment areas; admission criteria; waiting lists; appeals; application websites for all London Boroughs.

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A practical guide to state and private schools in London: where the best schools are in London; school years and curriculum; applications process and timelines; application requirements; Special Education Needs, glossary of school terms.

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Guide to Private Schools in London

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