Ask the Expert: Applying for a place at a Hampshire school

November is the month that parents can first apply for a school place if their child is due to start school in the following September, or needs a Year 3 place in a junior school

Nov 3 2017

School children

The County Council processes more than 30,000 applications for infant, junior and primary school places every year, across more than 400 schools.

Applying for a school place for their child is an exciting and important prospect for parents. It is straightforward to complete your application online.  

We spoke to the team in our school admissions office to find out more:

How do I apply for a school place?

If your child lives within Hampshire County Council’s local authority area, you can complete an application online for any publicly-funded school.

If you do not have access to the internet you can request a paper application form from a Hampshire school.

What if I don’t live in Hampshire?

If your child lives outside the area, you need to apply through your home local authority. Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight are outside Hampshire County Council’s local authority area.

What if I live in Hampshire but would like my child to attend a school in another area?

If you live in Hampshire and want to apply for a place at a school in any of our neighbouring local authority areas, Portsmouth, Southampton and the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, West Berkshire, Surrey and West Sussex, you must make your application  through Hampshire County Council.

When do I need to apply?

Most children start school in the September after their fourth birthday in Reception (Year R). If your child attends Year 2 of an infant school, you will need to apply for a Year 3 place at a junior school.

Applications for places in Year R and Year 3 in September 2018 are now open. The deadline for these applications is 15 January 2018.

See the key dates in the application process (which also shows the important time of year for parents applying to secondary schools).

If your child is moving schools at any other point in the year, you need to make an ‘in-year’ application. You can do this at any time. There is extra separate guidance for in-year applications.

How is the allocation of places decided?

Parents can list their top three preferred schools when applying. Each school has an admissions policy, which is usually published on their website. If there are more applications for a school than there are places, the allocation will be made by applying the criteria set in the school’s admissions policy. The catchment area of the school is usually the biggest factor. You can see which catchment area you live in on our catchment area map.

Any tips for how to choose my preferred schools?

Use your preferences wisely. Investigate schools, especially your catchment area school. Find out how many applications the school had last year compared to places available, and the final criterion used to allocate places. This may give you some idea of the likelihood of your preference being met.

Schools’ websites are great sources of information about the ethos and policies of the schools. Visiting schools is very important, to help you get a feel for the atmosphere and the culture in the school community.

On our website you can see more information about choosing schools, and our directory: Find a school in Hampshire.

Bear in mind that…

  • naming only one school or the same school more than once will not strengthen your application for that school
  • attending a nursery attached to an infant or primary school does not give priority for admission to the school
  • accepting a place at a school does not guarantee a place at the same school for siblings.

What should I do if I do not get a place at my first choice school?

If all available places at a school have been allocated and it is over-subscribed, a waiting list will be established.

Your child will automatically be added to the waiting list of any school you named on your application that was a higher preference than the school where your child was allocated a place. Your child's position on a waiting list is determined by the priority order shown in the school's admission policy. This might include factors like living in the school's catchment area, having a brother or sister at the school, or the distance from your home to the school. It will not take account of how long your child has been on the list.

If your child has been refused admission to a school, you have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel. More about appeals.

A final tip

Try not to worry. Parents should be reassured that Hampshire’s education standards are high across the county with 90% of Hampshire’s 534 schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. In recent years, the percentage of Hampshire parents offered a place for their child at one of their three preferred primary school choices is around 97% or above, with around 90% being offered their first choice.