Apply for a junior school place

Things to consider before applying to junior school

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Children with an education, health and care (EHC) plan

If your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan, their school admission will be managed by our SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) team and not as part of our general admissions. If your child is in an early years setting (such as a nursery), during this coming autumn, the school will invite you to a review meeting called a ‘transfer review’. At this meeting, the school that you would like your child to transfer to will be discussed and the request will be processed by our SEND team, who will let you know your child’s confirmed school by 15 February 2024.

Your child’s current school will also be able to provide you with an information booklet regarding this process.

If you have any further queries or concerns about this process, please contact us on 0300 300 8356. If you prefer to email you can do so at

Special Educational Needs and Disability - Local Offer.

Can my child attend our catchment school?

You need to make your application on time in order to be considered for your preferred school(s). Living in the catchment area will give your child priority however it does not automatically guarantee a place at your catchment school. If there are more applications than places available, the admissions criteria for the school will be applied. Should you not get your preferred school(s), we will ensure that your child is offered a place at the next nearest school with places available.

Do I have to apply for my catchment or nearest school?

No. You have the right to express a preference for up to 3 schools/academies which provide education suitable for your child’s age. You may wish to apply for your catchment school as this will usually mean that if a place is not available at your preferred school, you may still have priority for a place at your catchment school. If you do not ask for a place at your catchment school or nearest school, it could result in your child attending a school some distance from your home. You may be responsible for transporting your child to that school. (If your preference school is unsuccessful there is no guarantee you will get a place at your catchment school if you do not apply for it). 

Are places offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis?

All applications received by 15 January 2024 are considered at the same time and priority is not given to those who put the school as a first preference. Decisions about who to offer places to are made solely using the oversubscription criteria for the school, no other information is taken into consideration. Along with schools, we must also comply with the legislation on infant class sizes which limits the number of children in a class to 30 for 5, 6 and 7 year olds. Your application might be refused on those grounds.

Will having a sibling at the school guarantee my child a place?

Your child will have a higher priority of a place at the school if they have an older sibling already attending there, however it is not always possible for us to allocate siblings at the same school. If you do not live within the school’s catchment area and have an older child at the school it is possible that they will not be offered a place at the same school. 

A sibling refers to a brother or sister, half brother or sister, step-brother or sister, adopted brother or sister or fostered brother or sister where foster care has been arranged by a local authority or the child of the parent/carer’s partner, and in every case, the child should be living at the same address. The sibling must be in the school at the time of application and be likely to remain in the school at the proposed date of admission.

Do I have to apply to three schools?

No, you can apply for up to three schools. Naming more than one school will not weaken your chance of gaining a place at your first preference school. Similarly naming the same school more than once will not increase your chance of gaining a place at that school, so therefore it is worth considering other local schools in case a place cannot be offered at your preferred school.

Will my child be entitled to school transport?

Find how to apply for school transport. It is important to consider how your child will travel to school before submitting your application.

If your child is living with you due to a court agreement or specific issue order

If yes, please provide a copy of the court order or specific issue order at the time you submit your application.

Fraudulent applications

We take very seriously any attempt to obtain a school place by fraud. All fraud allegations are investigated.

If you know someone who intends to or has used a false address to get a school place, you can report this confidentially to our fraud investigation team by emailing or calling 0300 300 5476.

You do not need to give your name but please provide as much information as possible so that we can investigate the matter fully.

If we find that a school place was obtained using a false address we may withdraw our offer, even after the child has started school, and give it to the child who was entitled to the place. We consider every school place obtained through deception denies another child their legitimate place.  

We will not accept a temporary address if you still have a property that was previously used as a home address, nor will we accept a temporary address used solely or mainly to obtain a school place. You may be asked to supply additional information to explain why you are not able to use your permanent address.

Multiple and conflicting applications (such as children living between two addresses)

If your child lives at more than one address, because childcare arrangements are shared jointly, either parent may apply. We will consider the relevant address to be the one where the child sleeps for most of the school week (Sunday to Thursday). If your child lives at two addresses equally, we will use the address of the parent or carer who claims the Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit. This is considered the child's main address. If you don't get Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit, we'll ask you for alternative documentation such as your child’s current doctor’s surgery or court order.

We will only accept one application per child. If you share parental responsibility, all those who share responsibility must be in agreement about the preferences and information submitted. We expect separated parents to agree on school places before an application is made. We're not in a position to intervene in disputes between parents over a school application and will request that these are resolved privately.

  • one joint application is made, signed by all parties; or
  • a written agreement is provided from both parents; or
  • a court order is obtained confirming which parents’ application carries precedence

Whilst we appreciate differences between parents can be a difficult time for all involved, including possible court action, without a court order, we must remain neutral and treat both parties equally.

Conflicting applications that are not resolved by the closing date (15 January 2024) will be placed on hold until resolved and therefore will not be considered until the late allocation.

Change of circumstances

Applications are processed in the on-time allocation as they are on 15 January 2024. A change in your circumstances could have an effect on the criterion your application is processed under and therefore whether you are successful in being offered a place at your preferred school. Changes in circumstances which may affect the criterion your application is processed under can include; moving to another address, no longer receiving Child Benefit, an older sibling starting at your preferred school, your child starting at a named feeder school etc.

If your circumstances change it is your responsibility to inform us in writing of the change and when this took place. If we are not notified of the change then your application may be processed inaccurately.

  • if the change of circumstances takes place before or on 15 January 2024 and we are notified by this date then we will add the information to your application and it will be considered in the on-time allocation
  • if the change of circumstances takes place after 15 January 2024, or we are notified after this date, then the information will not be added to your application until after the on-time allocation
  • if you notify us of a change in your circumstances and it will not have an impact on the criterion your application is processed under we will let you know

Changing your mind

If you would like to change the school preferences on your application, or the order you have listed them, you need to complete a change of preference form which is available on our website (or we can post one out to you on request). Changes we receive before or on 15 January 2024 will be processed as on-time, your application will be amended to reflect the changes and these will be considered in the allocation.

If you make a change to your application from 16 January 2024, these changes will not be processed until the late allocation round. Your original application will be processed in the on-time allocation as normal, we will write to you with the results of the original allocation on offer day, and the application will not be amended until after this time. The late changes of preference will be processed in the late allocation rounds.      

Making a change of preference means:

  • any previous preferences (this doesn't include an offer of a school place) will be discarded on submission of the form
  • if a place can be offered at any of the new preference schools, the original offer will be automatically withdrawn
  • if you want your child to stay on the waiting list(s) for school(s) at which you have been declined for, you need to include this as higher preferences on the form

How are school places allocated?

All our schools operate an equal preference system for allocating places; this is in accordance with legislation. This means that there are two stages in the allocation process. 

Equal Preference System

Admission authorities are legally required to operate an ‘equal preference system’. This means that places are purely allocated according to the published admissions criteria for a school and not on the basis of where the school was listed on the parent’s application (e.g. 1st, and or 2nd and or 3rd preference).

Therefore, even if a parent puts a school as their second preference, their child could still be offered a place ahead of another child whose parents had put the school down as their first preference. It is all about the extent to which the child meets the oversubscription criteria. 
Your child will be added to the waiting list for each of the schools you’ve named on your application form. The waiting list for each school is then ranked in accordance with the published admission criteria for that school, and this will determine if a place can be offered.
If a child is not offered a place at any of the schools a parent has named on their form, the Local Authority will offer a place at the nearest school with a space available.

All applications received between September 2023 and 15 January 2024 will be considered at the same time.

We will only use your order of preference (rank) if it's possible to offer your child a place at more than one of your preferred schools. If this is the case, we'll offer you a place at the highest-ranked school possible.

If a school receives fewer applications than places available, then all applicants will be offered a place at the school, regardless of where they live.

If a school has more applications than places available then all applicants will be ranked using the school’s oversubscription criteria. The oversubscription criteria for schools and academies can be found in our directory of schools.

Where applicants have the same criteria, they will then be ranked using a straight line distance with those living closer to the school having higher priority. Home-to-school distances for admission allocation purposes will be measured along a straight line between a child’s address and the relevant school/academy. The measurement is taken from the NLPG (National Land and Property Gazetteer) address point of the child’s house to the designated measuring point of the school. Address point data is a nationally recognised method of identifying individual residences. This is an objective method of measuring home-to-school distances consistently when applying admission criteria. It does not take into account the actual or expected route a child will travel to school. The distance is measured using our computerised measuring system (Synergy Admissions database). Other mapping tools (such as Google maps) are not used in the allocation of school places.

What if I am not offered a place at my preferred school(s)?

Those not offered a place will be added to the school’s waiting list and applicants will have the right to appeal.

If a place cannot be offered at any of the schools listed on the application, and the child lives within Central Bedfordshire, then we will allocate a place at the nearest school which has a place available following the allocation. More information on this will be sent to these applicants with their decision letters.

If you have been declined a place at your preferred school(s) you have the right of appeal to an independent Admissions Appeal Panel. Please see the section on Appeals for further details.

(Local Authority Placements – Next Nearest School with available school places)

If you have not been offered a place at any of your preferred schools and live in Central Bedfordshire, we have a duty to provide a school place for your child. 

This would usually be your catchment school if there are places remaining after the allocation or the next nearest Central Bedfordshire school with places available appropriate to your child’s age range, which is closest to your home address. 

The next nearest school is identified by the measurement from the child’s home address to the school using walking or motorized route which is calculated by the Council’s GIS system. If this measurement is over the statutory walking distance for the age of the child or the route is deemed to be unsafe for the pupil (accompanied as necessary) to get to the identified school placement, then the School Transport Team will assess this further and provide transport where this is the case.