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What happens if the state schools I have applied for via my borough are all full?

Article published on 19th June 2024

What happens if the state schools I have applied for via my borough are all full?

Applying for a state school place in London for your child is a stressful process – from deciding which to include on your application to waiting to find out if you’ve been successful. It’s common for a family to miss out on their first, or even second, option, but what if all the schools you’ve applied for – you can include up to six on your application – via your London borough are full?

In this situation, the London borough in question is obliged to find your child a school place somewhere else – either at a school you’ve not already applied for in the same borough, or a school in another borough.

So, the good news is, if your child is of school age they will always get a place in the state school system. Moreover, if the school admissions teams must look beyond the list of schools on your application to find a place, they will attempt to find the nearest school for your child that has a place in the required school year.

The question is: which school? If you’re worried about it meeting your requirements or being a long way from your home, there’s another way you can attempt to secure a place at one of your original preferred options: waiting lists.

Waiting lists

Each oversubscribed school in London maintains a waiting list that’s typically managed by the local authority. Your child can be on the waiting list for multiple schools simultaneously, meaning you still have a chance of obtaining a place at all the schools you applied for.

Their position on the list is determined by the school’s admission criteria, not by the order in which applications were received. This means the list is dynamic, and their position can move up or down as new applications are processed or if other children accept or decline places.

When a place becomes available, that place is offered to the child at the top of the waiting list. If that’s your child, you typically have a set period to accept or decline the offer.

It’s advisable to regularly check your child’s position on the waiting list and stay in contact with the local authority and the school to stay informed about any changes or available places.

Consult with Simply London

Consult with Simply London for personalised guidance and support on school admissions. Using our knowledge and experience, we can work with you to give your child the best chance of obtaining a place at one of your preferred schools and overcome potential hurdles you may face.  Click here to get in touch today.

Want to learn more about State Schools in London?

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All the information you need to find the right London State School for your child, and apply successfully:

  • The top 10 London neighbourhoods for state schools
  • The top 10 London primary state schools
  • The top 10 London secondary state schools
  • When and how to apply
  • Catchment areas
  • Admission criteria
  • Waiting lists
  • Application websites for all London Boroughs
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