Applying for a primary school place

The application process for reception applications for September 2024 has now closed.

If you still need to apply for a reception place for your child for September 2024 it will now be classed as a late application and will only be processed after all the on-time applications have been allocated so you may not receive a decision until after 16 April 2024.

You will now need to complete a paper application form so please email for a form or alternatively you can complete and submit the form at your local Gateway or the Broughton Hub.

On 16 April 2024 all on-time applicants will be able to view their child’s offer of a school place by logging into the Family portal, those who applied using a paper form will receive a decision letter in the post on or just after 16 April 2024.

Before you complete your application form, you should read the information on this page in full to ensure you understand the admissions procedure.

Applying for a primary school place is a big step for you and your child. No doubt you will have many questions about how this process works. The following is designed to help you with any queries you might have.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of primary schools are there?

Salford Local Authority (LA) has six different types of nursery and primary school provision.

There are community primary schools, voluntary aided schools, voluntary controlled schools, academies, special schools (for pupils with special educational needs) and early years centres.

When do children start at primary school?

The law says that children should start school, full time, by the start of the term after their fifth birthday. However, all children are able to start in a reception class in a primary school from the September following their fourth birthday.

Children continue to attend primary school until the end of year six when they then transfer to secondary school in year seven at aged 11 years.

If a parent/carer is offered and accepts a school place, they have the option to take the place on either a full or a part time basis. Part time places can only be taken until the child reaches compulsory school age (start of the term after their fifth birthday). At that point the child must then attend full time.

The parent/carer can also ask to speak to the school to defer their child’s entry until they reach compulsory school age. The admission authority to the school must agree to the request provided the place is taken up in the same academic year. The place will be held for that child and is not available to be offered to another child. The parent/carer would not be able to defer entry beyond compulsory school age or beyond the academic year of admission.

If you wish for your child to be taught outside of chronological year group, you should still complete your application at the usual time but you should also contact the school and the local authority to discuss your request further.

When should I find out about a reception school place for my child?

Salford encourages parents to think carefully about choosing a school for their child. Most parents are able to get a place in their first choice of primary school for their child.

  • When your child is about two years old find out as much as you can about schools near to you. If you will need childcare such as before and after school and holiday care, remember to ask what is available at the school. 
  • Talk to neighbours and friends who have children at school.
  • Get in touch with the head teachers and ask for a copy of the school's prospectus. This is a free booklet that will tell you most of the things you need to know about the school. Head teachers will be happy to let you have a look around their schools and to ask questions. It helps everyone if you arrange an appointment to do this.

How do I apply for a place in a reception class?

Parents living in Salford can apply online in the Family Portal. If you apply for a reception place using our online service there is no need to fill in a paper form.

For admission to voluntary aided schools and academies the admissions team will send details of your application to the relevant school's governing body for their decision.

Some voluntary aided schools may require supplementary information. Supplementary forms can be downloaded. You should check carefully with the school concerned exactly what they require and when it should be returned to them.

Before you fill in your application you should read the information on this page and on the admission policy pages in full to ensure you understand the admissions procedure.

The closing date for making your application for a September 2024 reception place is 15 January 2024.

Please note: if you return your form after the closing date it will be dealt with after all those applications which were received on time. You should be aware that a late application will reduce your chance of getting a place at the school of your choice.

Please remember that your child is not guaranteed a reception place at the school of your choice at this stage, but consideration will be given to your request.

Parents/carers should note that transfer from nursery to reception is not automatic and you must apply for a reception place through the local authority. There is no guarantee your child will be offered a place at the same school where they attended nursery class.

If my child has special educational needs, how will this affect my application?

If your child has special educational needs you need to follow the same procedure when applying for a school place. Places cannot be refused because of a child having special educational needs (SEN). In certain circumstances when a child has an education, health and care plan this can state that the child should attend a particular school as a result of their SEN. This should be adhered to. If your child has an education, health and care plan, you do not need to fill in the school application form as your child’s placement will be secured through their plan. You should contact your child’s SEN caseworker at the local authority for more information.

What proof of address do I need to provide?

Because of problems in the past, the school admissions team will ask you to provide proof of your address. When your child is offered a school place you will be asked to provide proof of address to the school, along with your acceptance of the place. You will be issued with a list of acceptable forms of proof which may include such things as:

  • council tax bill
  • rental/tenancy agreement
  • recent child benefit papers
  • copy of completion papers in the case of a recent house purchase

The evidence you provide should be dated in the last three months.

Your address is considered to be where your child is normally and regularly living at the time of deciding places. If your child is living with friends or relatives for reasons other than guardianship, then we cannot use that address at the time of allocating places.

The local authority may consider a child's temporary address within the UK (where, for example, they may be living in temporary accommodation due to their parents' working commitments whilst they are seeking a permanent address in the same area) at its discretion.

If your main address has changed temporarily within the UK (for example, if you live with extended family during illness or you take up temporary accommodation because of building work) than your address counts as the one you were at before moving to the temporary residence.

You must notify us as soon as possible if there is any permanent change in address. If you do not inform us of your change of address then a place offered to your child may be withdrawn.

After 15 March, it will not be possible to make any changes to the home address for allocation purposes as school offers will be finalised.  However, please still inform the admissions team of changes of address after this date so that offer information can be sent to the correct address.

Please note: strong action will be taken if a false address or misleading information is given and the school place your child is offered may be withdrawn.

How many schools should I apply for?

When filling in the form please list three or more school choices for your child. If the first school on your list is full, your next choice of school will be looked at. If you do not list more than one choice and a place cannot be offered at that school, your child may be offered a place at a school which has places available. This may be some distance from your home.

How are reception places decided?

If a school has more places available than applications, then all those children will be offered a place. If a school has more requests than places available, the admission policy will be used to decide who gets the available places.

There are many myths surrounding the allocation of school places and we would like to clarify the following:

There are always parents that are worried about whether their child will or will not be successful in gaining a place at their preferred school and that, if they choose a particular school as first choice and are not successful in their application, they will damage their chances of being accepted at any of their other preferred schools.

We must stress this is absolutely not the case. Admissions are strictly controlled by the Local Authority and success depends entirely on how far a child meets the over-subscription criteria for each school. The local authority must not consider whether a parent has placed the school first, second or third choice,  the consistent and fair approach is that all applications are dealt with on an equal preference basis and following a set application period places are offered in accordance with the schools published oversubscription criteria.  

For example, if you put three schools down on your child’s application and your child is eligible for a place at all three of the schools you will be offered a place at your first preference school. However, if we are unable to offer your child a place at your first preference, but they are then eligible for a place at your second and third preferences then your child will be offered a place at your second preference school as this is the highest preference we are able to offer.  Your child will automatically be placed on the waiting list for the any higher preference schools in Salford and the lower preference schools (those listed below your offered school) will be marked as ‘no longer required’.

Example one

Preference Local authority decision Decision communicated to parent
1. Lark Hill Primary School Able to offer Placed offered
2. Willow Tree Primary School Able to offer No longer required
3. Light Oaks Infant School Able to offer No longer required

Example two

Preference Local authority decision Decision communicated to parent
1. Lark Hill Primary School Unable to offer Waiting list
2. Willow Tree Primary School Able to offer Place offered
3. Light Oaks Infant School Able to offer No longer required

Our advice is that if you want your child to attend a particular school you should put this school as your first choice. The local authority will try to place children in their first choice school if possible and if your application is unsuccessful, you will not be disadvantaged at your second or third choice schools.

All community and voluntary controlled schools have the same admission criteria which are set by the local authority.

Voluntary aided schools may have different admissions criteria. To view each individual school's criteria see the school's admission policy.

You may find it useful to look at how school places were allocated in the previous year. This may help you decide the likelihood of your child getting a place at your chosen school.

How will I know if I have been offered a place?

You will be able to view your child's school place offer in the Family Portal from 16 April 2024. If you applied using a paper application form you will receive you will be notified by letter which will be posted to you on 16 April 2024. You will normally be given at least ten working days to let the local authority know whether you want to accept this offer. If you do not respond within this timescale the place may be offered to another child.

What can I do if my child is not offered a reception place at the school of my choice? Can I appeal?

If you are not offered a reception place at the school(s) of your choice you will have the right to appeal against the decision.

However the law on infant class sizes states that from 1 September 2000 no five, six or seven year olds should be in a class of more than 30 pupils, therefore the circumstances where an appeal committee can uphold an appeal for these year groups are limited.

What happens if I apply for a reception school place after the places have been offered?

If you want to apply for a place in reception for your child after the allocation date of 16 April 2024, you will need to fill in an application form as soon as possible.

If your choice of school does not have any places left you can:

  • Leave your child's name on the waiting list at your that school in case a place becomes available
  • Choose another school with places available (your child's name can still remain on the waiting list at your preferred choice of school)
  • You also have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel

How do waiting lists work?

If your application for a school place at your choice of school(s) is refused, you are entitled to place your child's name on a waiting list. Waiting lists must be held until at least 31 December 2024. The local authority will hold waiting lists for community and voluntary controlled schools throughout the school year.

You should check individually with voluntary aided schools to check if their waiting lists will be held beyond 31 December 2024. 

Who to contact

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This page was last updated on 24 January 2024

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