Applying for a nursery school place

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

If you still need to apply for a nursery 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 nursery place is a big step for you and your child. You will probably have many questions about how the process works. The following is designed to help you with any questions you might have.

Please note: This section relates to nursery places for children from the age of three years in community, voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools. Information on childcare, including free childcare for two, three and four year olds, available from private providers is available on our finding childcare page.

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 controlled schools, voluntary aided schools (all Roman Catholic schools and some Church of England schools), academies, special schools (for pupils with special educational needs) and early years centres.

When do children start nursery?

Places in a school nursery are offered from the September following your child's third birthday.

When should I find out about nursery places?

Salford encourages parents/carers to think carefully about choosing a school nursery place for their child.

  • When your child is about two years old find out as much as you can about schools near to you. 
  • Talk to neighbours and friends who have children at school.
  • Get in touch with 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 ask questions. It helps everyone if you arrange an appointment to do this.
  • If you are working find out what out of school services the school offers to check it meets your needs, such as before and after school childcare and holiday care.

Do all schools offer the 30 hour places for working parents?

Not all schools offer 30 hour places. Due to physical restrictions on buildings, some schools offer a mix of full and part time places, or part time places only. For September 2023 the following schools will be offering part time places, Light Oaks Infant School will be offering part time morning and afternoon places whilst, Summerville Primary School will be offering part time morning places only. St Philip’s RC and St Mark’s CE will be offering a mixture of full and part time places. From September 2017, if you qualify for the 30 hour working parent nursery funding and take a part time (15 hour) place in a school nursery, you can claim the remaining 15 hours of your funding with a private provider or childminder.

All other schools offer 30 hour places to all pupils, and places are allocated on the basis of the published admission criteria, not on the parents’ working status. Please be aware that places are first allocated to Salford residents meeting the admission criteria and then if any places are remaining they will be offered to non-Salford residents in order of the oversubscription criteria.

How to apply for a nursery place?

There has been a change to the way applications are made for some schools. Applications for the following schools should be made direct to the school:

  • Broughton Jewish Cassell Fox Primary School
  • St Paul's CE Primary School, Cross Lane
  • St Philips RC Primary School
  • St Teresa's RC Primary School

For applications for all other schools parents can apply online or by visiting a Gateway Centre. 

For admission to voluntary aided schools, 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. You should check if this is the case in the school’s admission policy. Some supplementary forms can be downloaded online. However the list is not exhaustive, so if you are applying for a faith school that is not listed you should check carefully to see if they require any further information from you.

For applications for nursery places in another local authority, parents should contact that local authority to find out how and when to apply for a nursery place.

Before you complete your application form, you should read Salford's primary admission booklet which explains the admissions procedure in full.

Please remember that your child is not guaranteed a nursery place at the school of your choice at this stage.

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

Please note if you do not return your form by 15 January 2024 it will be dealt with after all those applications which are received on time. You should be aware that late application could reduce your chance of getting a place at your choice of school(s).

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 nursery place. Places cannot be refused because of a child having special educational needs (SEN). In certain circumstances, when a child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education Health and Care Plan, this can state that the child should attend a particular school as a result of their SEN. This will be adhered to.

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 in most cases.

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) then 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 any school 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 intentionally 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 nursery school 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 applications than places available the nursery admissions criteria will be used to decide who gets the available places. Places will first be offered to Salford residents, and then if any places remain they will be offered to non-Salford residents in order of the oversubscription criteria.

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 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 Place 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 and academies may have different admissions criteria. To view each individual school's criteria see Salford's primary school admission details page.

Please note: nursery places are normally allocated on a full time basis. Some schools may decide, depending on the number of applications they receive, to offer all part time places or a mix of part time and full time places. 

Some schools prefer nursery pupils to commence on reduced hours building up their time as they settle in. The schools concerned will advise parents/carers when providing details of admission arrangements.

How will I know if I have been offered a nursery place for my child?

You will be able to view your child's school place offer in the Family Portal from 16 April 2024. If you have applied using a paper application form, 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 the offer. If you do not respond within the timescale the place may be given to another child.

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

If you are not offered a nursery school place for your child at the school(s) of your choice you can:

  • leave your child's name on the waiting list at your choice of school(s) in case a place becomes available, or
  • choose another school with places available. If you do this your child's name can remain on the waiting list at your preferred choice of school(s)

Unfortunately there is no right of appeal if you have been refused a nursery place at the school of your choice. This is because nursery provision is non-statutory.

You may be able to get 15 or 30 hours free childcare (depending on your working status) in a private or voluntary nursery or pre-school playgroup. More information is available through the Starting Life Well Service.

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

If you want a nursery school place after the allocation date of 16 April 2024, you need to fill in an application form as soon as possible.

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

  • leave your child's name on the waiting list at that school in case a place becomes available
  • choose another school school with places available. If you do this your child's name can stay on the waiting list at the school of your choice

How do waiting lists work?

If your application for a nursery school place at your choice of school(s) is refused, you are entitled to place you child's name on a waiting list. Waiting lists must be held until at least 31 December 2024. 

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


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This page was last updated on 24 January 2024

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