Welcome to the primary admissions guide for junior, middle and starting school place applications for September 2024. Please read this page before making your application.
Primary Admissions - The important dates
The online form for junior, middle and starting school applications will open on 25 September 2023
When your child can start school
Children can start school in September following their fourth birthday, so, children born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020 are entitled to a full-time school place from September 2024.
Children must start school in the term (January, Easter or September) after their fifth birthday.
Please see our webpage for further details on deferred entry, part-time schooling and delayed admission for summer-born children.
Who can apply
Parents and carers are responsible for making a school place application for any children in their care. A legal definition of a parent or carer is included in the glossary at the bottom of this page.
Where shared care arrangements are in place and parents and carers of the child submit two separate applications for different schools, we will only accept one application, which will be the application made by the parent or carer who lives at the same permanent home address as the child. Where there are exceptional grounds, such as ongoing court proceedings, these applications will be considered case-by-case.
Where it is necessary to establish the child’s permanent home address, parents or carers will be asked to write to us stating the number of days each week the child spends with them. We may also ask for evidence of which parent or carer was in receipt of child benefit when the application was made. If the parent or carer is not in receipt of child benefit, we will ask for proof of the child’s home address as held by the doctor’s surgery when the application was made. If the child’s home address cannot be verified, we may ask you for more information.
Please be aware that if you are applying for a school place for your child and your child does not live with you permanently, information will also be sent to your child’s permanent home address.
Important things to think about before you apply
Important things to think about
Your address is important
The home address is very important, as school places are allocated on the basis of the permanent home address of each child. A child’s permanent home address is considered to be where the child spends most of their time with parents or carers. Where the child spends equal time with both parents, the admission authority may ask for more information, including evidence of which parent or carer is in receipt of child benefit and the name of the General Practitioner (GP) surgery where the child is registered
Documentary evidence of home ownership or suitable rental agreement may be required, together with proof of permanent residence at the property concerned. Places cannot be allocated on the basis of an intended future address unless the house move can be confirmed through the formal exchange of contracts or the signing of a minimum of a 6-month formal tenancy agreement from a letting agency.
Please note – private letting agreements may not be accepted as proof of residence. An address change due to a move to live with other family members or friends will not be considered until the move has taken place and you have given us suitable proof of residency. Proof that a move from the previous address has taken place may also be required, for example, proof of exchange of contracts, a tenancy agreement showing the end date of the tenancy or a notice to quit from the landlord or repossession notice. We reserve the right to seek more documentary evidence to support any claim of residence, which could include contacting the estate agent, solicitor, landlord or relevant professional. We may carry out home visits without prior notice to verify a child’s home address.
An address used for childcare arrangements cannot be used as a home address for the purpose of applying for a school place.
Proof of address for Voluntary Controlled and Community schools will not be required for traveller families where the address is confirmed by the Traveller Education Service. A foster carer will not be required to supply proof of address for a child placed with them by a local authority.
For admission allocation purposes, in most cases, the address that will be taken into consideration is the address at which the child is resident at the closing date or an address at which the child will be resident before the start of the new academic year in September 2024, providing the change of address is notified and evidence provided before the exemption deadline of 2 February 2024. However, own admission authority school’s arrangements may vary.
If you move out of an address before outcome day the application will need to be processed on the new address. You must keep us informed of any address changes. Failure to do so may result in a school place being withdrawn.
Fraudulent or misleading claims relating to the home address of a particular child may lead to the withdrawal of the offer of a school place.
Choosing a school
In Somerset, you can choose up to 3 preferences in ranked order.
Finding out more about local schools before you apply
The best way to find out more about schools is to visit them. Contact the school directly for more information.
You can also
- visit the school website
- attend the open day or evenings
- look at the school’s performance table at the GOV.UK website
- get a copy of the school’s most recent OFSTED (The Office for Standards in Education) inspection report on the OFSTED website
- see the school’s information on our Local Offer.
Stating your catchment school as one of your preferences
If you would like your child to be considered for your catchment school, you will need to include it as one of your preferences. But, this does not guarantee a place at this school. You can find your catchment school on our website.
Some schools and academies that are their own admission authority do not prioritise children living in the catchment area of the school in their over-subscription criteria. If you think you live in the catchment area of a school or academy but the school or academy does not include the catchment area in their over-subscription criteria it is recommended that one of the preferences expressed is for the nearest school to your home address. However, please note, this does not guarantee your child a place at this school. Please contact us if you are not sure which school is nearest.
If you want to apply for a primary school
If your child is in an infant or middle school and you wish to apply for your child to move to a primary school, please see the page In Year School Admissions for advice on in-year admissions which are school moves outside of the usual school transfer cycle.
More important things to think about
More important things
Does my child’s current preschool or school influences their next school place?
Priority is given in the local authority over-subscription criteria for out of catchment children who are transferring to junior or middle school and are attending the infant or first school within that school’s catchment area.
In most circumstances, your child’s current preschool will have no influence on the application for their school place but check the individual school or academy’s admission arrangements to be sure.
Supplementary Information Forms (SIF)
Where additional information to support your school place application is required, you may need to fill out a Supplementary Information Form (SIF). For example, your church representative may need to complete a SIF if you are applying for a school place under religious grounds.
You can get SIFs from the particular school’s website, or for Voluntary Controlled (VC) schools here.
If you are applying for a school in another local authority make sure you have the correct SIF for the schools you are applying for.
You can upload any supporting information, such as a SIF onto your online application.
Applying for a church school on religious grounds
Confirmation of church attendance or any involvement with the work and worship of the church must be confirmed on a SIF and returned by the published deadline. For VC schools, you can find this here.
For own admission authority church schools, please see the individual school website for a definition of religious criteria and where to get a SIF if needed (see our glossary for definitions of the different types of schools). For catholic schools, you will often just need to provide a baptism certificate. You may not need to fill in a SIF .
For VC schools the SIF states that The Diocese of Bath and Wells recommend to the clergy that the child or a parent has attended actual worship. Attendance at toddler groups or other activities that are held at the church does not meet the requirements.
Please note that in the event that during the period specified for attendance at worship, the relevant place of worship has been closed for public worship and alternative premises for that worship have not been provided, the requirements of these admission arrangements in relation to attendance will only apply to the period when the relevant place of worship or alternative premises have been available for public worship.
If you have special reasons for wanting a place at a particular school
Places are allocated strictly according to the over-subscription criteria for that school or academy. Please check the individual school’s over-subscription criteria for details of how places are allocated.
If you do not need a place at a Somerset school or academy
If you are moving away or making alternative arrangements for your child’s education, such as an independent school or home education, please email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so that we can update your child’s record.
If your child will be attending an independent school, please include the name of the school.
If you are considering a place at an independent school, you must make your application directly to the school concerned. For more information please contact the Independent Schools Council.
If you are moving out of Somerset, please provide your child’s new address.
You can find information about home education on our Elective home education page.
Priority is given in the published local authority admission arrangements for siblings where there is an existing sibling link at the time of admission. But no guarantee is given that siblings can attend the same school when the school is over-subscribed.
For academies or schools which are their own admission authorities, you will need to check the individual over-subscription criteria for each school.
Make sure you fully complete the question about siblings if relevant (if not, your application may not be considered under this criterion).
If children of multiple births (twins and triplets) are tied for the final place, these siblings will usually be admitted over PAN (sibling definition applies).
SEND information - part of our Local Offer
Applying if your child has and Education, Health and Care plan
If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC), their school placement will be dealt with by the Statutory Special Education Needs and/or Disability (SEND) Team. Please do not make an application for a school place to the admissions team. You must contact the Statutory SEND team to make sure a plan is in place for your child’s transition.
There would also have been an opportunity to discuss your views on your child’s next placement at their last Annual Review meeting. You may find it helpful to visit Education Health and Care Plan Annual Reviews page to find out more.
If a child has an Education, Health and Care plan which names a particular school, then the admissions authority for that school has a duty to admit the child. Where possible, the admissions authority will take these admissions into account before the published offer day and will include these admissions in the published admission number.
The local authority has a duty to make suitable provisions for children who have Special Educational Needs and to make appropriate education available in mainstream or specialist schools. Wherever possible, the local authority will try to place children with Special Educational Needs in mainstream schools. The needs of the majority of children can be met from the resources available to the schools, including advice from the area support services.
For impartial information, advice and support about Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, please visit the Somerset SENDIAS website.
Children previously in care and now adopted
The admissions authority has a duty to give the highest priority within the over-subscription criteria to children in local authority care (Looked After Children) or children who were previously looked after and are now formally adopted or subject to a residence or child arrangement order or special guardianship order. Previously looked after children also include children who appear (to the admission authority) to have been in state care outside of England and ceased to be in state care as a result of being adopted.
You may be required to submit a copy of the adoption order, child arrangement order or special guardianship order and a letter from the local authority that last looked after the child confirming that he or she was looked after immediately before that order was made. Further information may be requested.
Applying for a school outside Somerset
Applications must be made to your home local authority regardless of where the school is situated. If you live in Somerset please apply online and choose your preferred schools by 15 January 2024.
Please note that the published admission arrangements for another county may be different from those in Somerset. You must make sure that you fully understand the published admission arrangements and over-subscription criteria that apply to the school concerned before you make your application and to find out if you need to complete a SIF .
An all-through school covers Reception through to the end of Year 11 – primary and secondary phases combined.
Parents who have children on roll at an all-through school do not need to make a separate secondary school application for the same school.
However, if your child is not currently on roll at an all-through school and you would like to apply for the second phase, you must make an application by the published deadline.
Applying for a school
If you are applying online, please choose the ‘No UID’ (Unique Identification Number) option on the online form, because we do not use these.
If you make a paper application, you will not receive an email notification of your school place application on National Offer Day. Instead, a letter will be posted 2nd class to your home address on this date. Outcomes will not be given out over the phone.
Make sure you have completed any necessary SIFs that are required. Please make sure you have fully completed your application form. If you have applied online make sure that it has been submitted properly and that you have received a confirmation email. You must re-submit your online form if you view or make any changes at a later date.
Supporting information such as a SIF or proof of address for on-time applications will be accepted up to 2 February 2024.
School place application checklist
- Research the schools that you are considering applying for (for example, visit the school’s website, contact the school for a visit, look at the school prospectus, attend open days or evenings, visit the OFSTED website, and think about before and after school care).
- Think about how your child will get to school.
- Express a preference of 3 schools in preferred, ranked order.
- Seriously consider stating your catchment or nearest school as one of your preferences.
- Make sure you fully complete the question about siblings if relevant (if not, your application may not be considered under this criterion).
- If relevant, make sure you have completed the appropriate SIF for each school you have applied for and returned to the correct address (if not, your application may not be considered under the appropriate criterion).
- Make sure your application is received by the closing date – 15 January 2023.
How places will be allocated
Every school has a legal Published Admission Number (PAN) applicable to the year of entry, which indicates the maximum number of places available in the year group concerned.
The PAN is set to maximise parental preference within the resources and accommodation available.
If there are fewer applications than the PAN (such as places available), every child will be allocated a place. But, if a school receives more applications than the PAN (is over-subscribed) the published over-subscription criteria will be applied to determine which children should be offered the available places.
Places will be allocated using the ‘Equal Preference with Ranking’ method. This requires the admissions authority to consider all preferences received for a particular school (1st, 2nd and 3rd) equally and where the school is over-subscribed apply the over-subscription criteria. Where more than one of your preferences can be met the local authority will offer you a place at your highest ranked preference.
Unfortunately, at some schools, there will not be enough places for all the children whose parents would like them to go there. When all places have been allocated up to the PAN , the admission authority may refuse any further requests.
What you should do if your child has not been offered a place at one or more of your preferred schools
It may not be possible for the admission authority to offer your child a place at your highest preference school, however, you may still be offered a place at your second or third preference school. On some occasions, it may not be possible for an admissions authority to offer your child a place at any of your preferred schools.
If this is the case, we would normally offer the catchment school if there are places available.
If this is not the case we would try to offer a place at the nearest alternative school with places available within statutory walking distance of the child’s home address (2 miles for children under 8 years of age and 3 miles for children aged 8 years and over).
Admission arrangements and over-subscription criteria
You can find the criteria used to allocate places at schools and academies on their websites. We also have links to the admission policies for each school on our Local Offer website. Just search for the school you are interested in and click on the admissions policy link.
For Voluntary Aided (VA) and Foundation (F) schools, the governing body is the admissions authority, and for Free Schools (FS) and Academies (A), the Academy Trust is the admissions authority. For VC and C schools the local authority is the admission authority.
All admission decisions will be made in accordance with the published admission arrangements for the school or academy in question. Parents are encouraged to read the criteria for the schools they are considering.
School and Academies in Somerset
Here is a full list of all primary phase schools in Somerset and the Published Admission Number for each school. The different types of schools are:
First schools: Age 4 to 9 years
Infant schools: Age 4 to 7 years
Junior schools: Age 7 to 11 years
Primary schools: Age 4 to 11 years
Middle schools: Age 9 to 13 years
All through schools: Age 4 to 16
Allocation Summaries for September 2022
Here is a summary of how the places were allocated at schools for September 2023 on our website.
A – Academy
C – Community School
F – Foundation School
FS – Free School
VA – Voluntary Aided School
VC – Voluntary Controlled School
PAN – Published Admission Number
For a full explanation see our glossary below.
If you are not offered one or more of your preferences you will be advised of your legal right to appeal for a place at your preferred school. Information about the appeal process will be sent to you with your outcome letter or email, detailing your options.
Please note that your appeal will not affect any offer you have already received in respect of another school unless you are successful at your appeal.
Places becoming available.
For every over-subscribed school, a ranked waiting list will be held in order of over-subscription criteria by the Admissions Authority until at least the end of the Autumn term.
For VC and C schools, please make a written request to us for your child to remain on the waiting list after this time. For own admission authority schools, you will need to check the individual school or academy’s admission arrangements on their website.
If places subsequently become available within the PAN they will be reallocated to the highest ranked child on the waiting list. The waiting list will include all applications refused, whether they were on time or late and will be ranked according to the school’s over-subscription criteria.
Help and support
The Somerset Choice Advice Service is a free impartial service to help families with school admissions and appeals. For more information please visit their website.
You can apply online on our Apply to Start School page.
Any applications received after 15 January 2024 will be considered as a late application.
For applications received by 3 May 2024, we will send outcomes the week beginning 7 June 2024. These will be sent by second-class post.
Applications received after 3 May 2024 will be processed in strict date order of receipt and outcomes sent out after 7 June 2024. These will be sent by second-class post.
If a change of preference is received and can be offered, the previous school place offer will automatically be withdrawn. It is not possible to withdraw a late application with a change of preference once the closing date has passed.
Starting a year late or early
For information about:
- Delayed entry
- Deferred entry
- Accelerated entry
- Starting school full or part-time
please read our page Starting school early or late.
How long your school place remains available
Unless you have formally deferred your child’s entry to school (starting school only), your child’s school place will remain available for 20 school days after the first day of term.
Applications for children of school age moving to an existing year group in another school outside of the starting or transferring school process are called In-year admissions.
For further information, please see our page In-year school admissions.
In-year Admissions – children of UK service personnel
Somerset local authority endeavours to make sure that admission arrangements in their area support the Government’s commitment to removing disadvantages for service children.
For families of service personnel with a confirmed posting, or crown servants returning from overseas, the admission authority will:
- Allocate a place in advance of the family arriving in the area (as long as one is available), provided the application is accompanied by an official letter that declares a relocation date. Admission authorities must not refuse to process an application and must not refuse a place solely because the family do not yet have an intended address, or do not yet live in the area.
- Use the address at which the child will live when applying their oversubscription criteria, as long as the parents provide some evidence of their intended address. Admission authorities must use a Unit or quartering address as the child’s home address when considering the application against their oversubscription criteria, where a parent requests this.
Considering travel arrangements when choosing a school for your child
Unless your child qualifies for free school travel assistance, it is the parent’s and carers’ responsibility to get them to school.
We will provide free school travel assistance to children who attend their designated transport area or nearest school, and live more than the statutory walking distance of 2 miles for children aged under 8 and 3 miles for children aged 8 years old and over from that school.
It is your responsibility to check which school is your nearest or designated transport area school before applying for a school place.
Finding out if you are entitled to free school travel assistance
If your child is entitled to travel assistance, you will receive an email within 6 weeks of your child’s school place outcome. If you do not receive an email this means your child has been assessed as not being entitled to free school travel assistance. Please do not apply for school travel assistance in the meantime.
Travel assistance entitlement is only assessed to the designated transport area or nearest school over the statutory walking distance of 2 miles for children aged under 8 and 3 miles for children aged 8 and over. If you wish for your child’s travel assistance entitlement to be assessed under low income grounds, you will need to make a separate application. You can do this on our school transport page.
Accepting an offer of school travel assistance
You will be sent a link to the medical needs form with the email offering travel assistance for your child. You must fill this out by the deadline given to accept the offer of travel assistance and to inform us of any medical needs your child may have. There is no guarantee that travel assistance will be set up for the start of the academic year if your form is returned late.
School travel assistance entitlement to schools that have changed their catchment area
Designated transport areas for schools match the catchment area for that school as of September 2012. If an admission authority has changed the catchment area for their school, there is no automatic change to the designated transport area. Designated transport areas are set by the local authority and can only be changed following a full public consultation.
Since January 2020, we have had to comply with The Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) regulations. These are accessibility regulations which cannot be met by the majority of the Somerset transport providers with their current fleet. The regulations prevent us from offering seats on a paying basis on vehicles over 22 seats which are not PSVAR compliant.
You can apply online for a payseat and you will be notified of the outcome before the start of the academic year, but it is highly recommended that you have alternative travel arrangements in place.
Full information on all home-to-school travel assistance provisions, including low-income transport, faith transport and exceptional transport, is available on our Home to School transport page.
Independent schools in Somerset
Independent schools in Somerset
There are also a number of non-local authority maintained, fee paying schools in the county. The following organisation will be pleased to provide you with a list of schools in the southwest area.
Independent Schools Council
27 Queen Anne’s Gate
Switchboard +44 (0)20 7766 7070
Academy (A) – Independently managed all-ability schools. Set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE) and the local authority. Together they fund the land and buildings, with the government covering the running costs.
Admissions arrangements – The overall procedure, practices and over-subscription criteria used in deciding the allocation of school places including any means used to determine whether a school place is to be offered.
Admissions authority – The body responsible for admissions to a school. For all C and VC schools, the local authority is the admissions authority. For all VA and F schools, the governing body is the admissions authority and for Academies and Free Schools, it is the Academy Trust.
Catchment area – A geographical area from which children may be afforded priority for admission to a school. A catchment area is part of a school’s Admission Arrangements and must therefore be consulted upon, determined and published in the same way as other admission arrangements. See our catchments map.
Catchment school – The school designated to your home address.
Community school (C) – Provided and maintained by the local authority.
C of E – Church of England.
Child looked after – A ‘looked after’ child or a child who was previously looked after but immediately after being looked after became subject to an adoption, residence or special guardianship order. A looked after child is a child who is (a) in the care of a local authority, or (b) being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services functions.
DfE – Department for Education – the central government Department responsible for Education in England and Wales.
Education, Health and Care plan – A legal document issued by the LA specifying the needs, resources and provisions required to support the child and can include a named school that is suitable for providing education for that child.
Foundation school (F) – Maintained by the local authority.
Free school (FS) – Free Schools are non-profit making, independent, state-funded schools.
Home address – This is the child’s permanent address at which they live with a person who has parental responsibility as the main carer (as set down by law).
Home authority – The local authority area you live in.
Infant Class Size Legislation – The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 placed a duty on local authorities and schools to limit the size of infant classes for 5, 6, and 7-year-olds taught by one teacher to 30 or fewer pupils.
ISC – Independent Schools Council. Provides information about Independent Schools.
OFSTED – Office for Standards in Education – the school inspection service for Central Government. Reports of inspections are available on their website.
Online application – An application made through our website.
Other local authority – an authority other than your home authority.
Over-subscribed – A school is over-subscribed when more applications are submitted than there are places available within the PAN .
Over-subscription criteria – The admissions authority for the school will apply the published over-subscription criteria to decide priority for places.
PAN – Published Admission Number – this is the maximum number of places an admissions authority can normally allocate in the intake year group. The PAN is reviewed each year by the admissions authority.
Parent or carer – Natural parents, whether they are married or not, are any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person. Any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person (having care of a child or young person means that a person who the child lives with and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a parent in education law).
Preference – The schools you would prefer your children to attend.
RC – Roman Catholic.
Sibling – For the purposes of admissions, we define a sibling as a child living permanently at the same address as a half or full brother or sister, an adoptive brother or sister or children of the same household.
Statutory walking distance – The national standard used to measure entitlement to travel assistance to school and the availability of an alternative school, measured along the shortest available walking route.
Supplementary Information Forms (SIF) – A document that may be required to support your application for a preferred school under a specific criterion of the over-subscription criteria.
Transport area – The area within which a family must live to be considered for travel assistance.
Under-subscribed – A school is under-subscribed if there are fewer applications received than places available within the PAN.
VA school – Voluntary Aided School – these are Roman Catholic or Church of England schools, provided by the Church and maintained by the LA.
VC school – Voluntary Controlled Schools – these are mainly church schools (Church of England).