When do we find out primary school places? 2021 date of decisions – and what to do if you don’t get first choice

Secondary school places were announced on 1 March, as children prepare to return to schools across England on 8 March

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 8:05 am

Today (1 March), primary school pupils preparing to move on to secondary school will have been told which school they will attend after the Summer.

Schoolchildren will return to the classroom for the first time in 2021 on 8 March. The third national lockdown has resulted in children depending on home schooling for lengthy spells during the past 12 months.

Pre-school children are expected to attend school as normal from September, as lockdown restrictions ease and mass vaccinations allow schools to reopen as normal.

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All parents who applied for their child's primary school places will be informed via letter, on 16 April 2021 (Picture: Shutterstock)

So, when will parents find out which primary school their child will attend? This is everything you need to know.

When must my child start school?

Your child must legally be in full time education by ‘compulsory school age’. This means by either 31 December, 31 March or 31 August following a child’s fourth birthday - whichever comes first.

All three to four-year-olds in England are entitled to free early education before they start school full time, and you can find out more about this at Gov.uk.

Most children in England start school full-time the September after they turn four, but you can delay this and ask their school if they can start part-way through the term if you feel they are not ready.

The council or school will decide if your child should start in reception year or year one. You can find out more about the national curriculum and school admissions on Gov.uk.

Children born between 1 April and 31 August can start the September after they turn five, and you can contact your local council or school if you want them to start later.

If your child’s fifth birthday is on one of those dates then they reach compulsory school age on that date and should start school the following term.

When is primary school offer day 2021?

Parents of children who applied for a place at primary school will receive a letter with the outcome of their application on Friday 16 April 2021.

What happens when you receive your letter?

The letter you receive on 16 April will inform you of the decision the schools you applied to have made.

You may be denied a place by all of the schools which you applied to, in which case your council must provide you with a place at a local authority school.

Ordinarily, this will be the closest school to you with places still available.

You must accept the offer by the deadline given in the offer letter. Otherwise you could miss out on that place and it could be appointed to another child.

What if my child doesn't get the place?

If your child is not given a place at a school of your choice, you can appeal the decision.

Each school must be appealed to individually and you can only appeal the school’s decision once.

You can also add your child’s name to the school’s waiting list, which they must keep for at least the first term of school (September - December).

The admission authority for the school is usually reached by contacting the school or it’s local authority.

If your child is on a waiting list and the school offers you a place, the admission authority will send you a formal offer. You may still accept an offer even if your child has started attending another school.

When is the best time to apply for next year?

In each local council area the applications open on different days so have a look on your council website to find out exactly when you can apply for primary school places.

You should apply for a primary school place in the autumn term after your child turns four, even if you want your child to start school part of the way through the term.

If your child was born in the summer (1 April to 31 August), you can apply in the autumn after your child turns five.

However, you have to ask for permission from your local council or school if you want your child to start in reception instead of year one.