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General information about School Admissions

When does my child need to start school?

Children must be in full-time education once they reach statutory school age. The first year of school is called reception. Children can attend reception for the full school year regardless of when their fifth birthday is.

You have to apply for a reception place almost a full year in advance. You apply from 1 September to 15 January for a place the following September. Applications received after this are classed as late and processed after those submitted on time.

Delaying when your child starts school

If you don't feel your child is ready to start school in the September after they turn 4, you can delay their start date until they are statutory school age.

We advise that you apply for a place as normal (you're unlikely to get a place in a preferred school if you apply late) and then tell the head teacher in writing that you wish to delay your child's start date. Your child’s place will be kept open for them to join at a later date in the school year. The latest you can delay their start date is Easter. You can't hold a place for a full school year.

Think carefully before deciding to delay your child's start date. It will mean your child will miss out on learning opportunities and the chance to make new friends and adapt to school life with their peers.

Summer born children

If your child was born in the summer (1 April to 31 August), you can ask for your child to be held back a full school year. They could start school in the September after they turn 5.

You will need to ask each school you would like to apply for if they will consider your child's application as an 'offset' (a year that is not their chronological year group). If they say no, you'll either need to ask other schools if they will accept your child's application, or apply for your preferred schools in your child's normal year of admission.

If one school agrees to accept your child as an offset, it doesn't mean they all will. Each admission authority will consider your request based on your individual circumstances and what they feel is in the best interests of your child. Think carefully about what this might mean if you move house and want to change your child's school later on, and when your child has to apply to transfer to secondary school. A decision by one school isn't binding on any other.

If a school agrees to accept your child's application as an offset, this doesn't mean your child has a place at that school or give your child any advantage in the admission process. It only means that your child's application for the school will be considered for the year you want alongside all other applications.

If your application is processed as offset but we can't offer you a place in your preferred school, we may be unable to offer you any alternative reception place as this would require the alternative school to accept your child as offset. In these circumstances, we would advise of schools with places available in Year 1.

How to apply for a summer born offset

Contact the School Admissions team at the council providing the following information:

  •  your reasons for wanting your child to start school a year late
  • any relevant supporting evidence
  • the schools you want to ask permission from

You need to contact us just after your child's 3rd birthday. The application period runs from 1 September to 15 January for a reception place the following September. You need to know well before 15 January if your preferred schools will allow you to delay your child's application for a year. If they won't, you will still be able to apply on time for your child's chronological year group.

Don't assume if you wait until your child is turning statutory school age this will increase the chance of your request being accepted. Your preferred school might only consider your child for any spaces left in Year 1 and if they are admitted, they will have missed out on a whole year of education and be joining a class where other children have already settled in and made friends.

When we receive your application, we will forward it to the named schools and let you know of their decision.

You can't appeal a decision to refuse an offset request however you do have the right of appeal if you are refused a place in your preferred school. You can complain using the school’s formal complaints process.

Information for service families being posted to Newcastle

If you are moving to Newcastle from somewhere else in England, you need to apply to the council where you currently live. Contact them for advice and information on how to apply.

If you live outside of England currently, apply directly to us. We will need a copy of an official Ministry of Defence, Foreign Commonwealth Office or Government Communication Head Quarters letter which confirms your relocation date and quartering area address.

What address should I use?

You must use the permanent address at the time of application where your child lives with a parent or person with parental responsibility. You can't use an address where they don't live, for example a childminder or grandparent's house.

We carry out address checks and may ask for proof of address. Using a false address is taken extremely seriously (it is committing fraud). If we don't believe your address is genuine, we will withdraw any offer of a school place and may take further action.

My child splits their time between my home and my ex-partner's, what address do we use?

  • If your child lives at more than one address Monday to Friday (for example due to a separation) use the address where your child lives most of the time on school days.
  • Only one address can be used. If the child lives at two addresses, the Local Authority will decide which address to use based on child benefit, child tax credit, Court Orders and/or GP registration.

It is the parent/carer’s responsibility to prove residency if requested.

If both you and your partner apply and provide different information or ask for different schools, we can only process one application.

What do I do if I’m moving house?

When you apply, you must use your child's permanent address at that point in time. If you move house after submitting the application, write to us with proof of your new address.

What supporting evidence do I need to provide and how?

If you want a school to consider your child as a priority for specific reasons, you need to provide supporting evidence. The admission criteria for each school explain what reasons they will consider, what evidence you need to provide and when it needs to be sent in by.

You can't attach supporting evidence to an online school application. You need to send it separately by email or post, including your child's name and date of birth.  

  • If you want a faith school to consider your child on faith grounds, you need to provide proof of faith to the school by the date in their admission policy.
  • If you want a school to take account of medical reasons why you feel your child needs to go there, you need to provide supporting evidence from a medical professional. You can send this to School Admissions at the council and we will share it with the relevant school. Only some schools include this criterion in their policy.
  • If your child was previously looked after (in care) and immediately afterwards adopted or subject to a child arrangements or special guardianship order, you need to send a copy of the legal paperwork that confirms (a) the order and (b) that the child was looked after immediately prior to the order being granted. Send this to School Admissions at the council and we will share it with the schools you have applied for.
  • If we ask for evidence of your address you must provide it within the timescale provided

Schools can only consider information directly related to your application and their admission criteria. Any other information will not be taken into account.

Medical reasons for wanting a certain school

If medical reasons aren't included in the admission criteria, a school can't give your child priority for a place, whatever evidence you provide. Check the admission policy first.

If medical reasons are included in the admission policy, you must provide a letter from an appropriate health professional explaining why the named school is the only school the child can attend. If the evidence is late it may not be considered when places are allocated.

The evidence will be formally considered by the admission authority and either upheld or rejected. It is more likely to be rejected if there is a closer alternative school.

Special educational needs

If your child has special educational needs and you want them to attend a certain mainstream school, you need to provide proof there is a medical need. The majority of children with special educational needs are able to have their needs met at any school and your case is unlikely to be upheld.

How are distances calculated in admission criteria?

Where straight line distance from central points is used in admissions criteria, this is calculated by a bespoke system and is not comparable to other systems used to measure distance due to the fact it also measures land mass including topography (i.e. contours and elevation). There are strict standards which are used to determine these distances and they are scrutinised by external agencies, GeoPlace/Ordnance Survey. The central point of both your home and the school property must be within a building, for example not in a courtyard or school field.

Published admission numbers

The published admission number (PAN) for each school is the maximum number of children the school can take in the reception class. It takes into account the size of the school and is calculated using a formula from the government. The council will allocate places in each school up to the admission number of the school or academy (PAN).

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