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Your child will usually start full-time in a reception class in the September prior to their fifth birthday.

  • September 2023 - children's dates of birth from 1 September 2018 to 31 August 2019
  • September 2024 - children’s dates of birth from 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2020
  • September 2025 - children’s dates of birth from 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021

Reception class forms part of a child's entitlement to the "Early Years Foundation Stage".

Children are not classed as compulsory school age until the term after their fifth birthday and therefore legally do not have to be in full time education until this time.


Anyone with parental responsibility can apply.

We expect separated parents to agree on school places before you make an application. We may request evidence from you that this is the case. We cannot intervene in disputes between parents over school applications. You must resolve these privately.


For children due to start school in September 2024, applications can be made between 01 November 2023 and 15 January 2024.




We can consider early admission applications at a community or voluntary controlled school if:

  • you make the application at the normal time
  • provide reasons for your request which may include supporting information as to why you consider an exception should be made for your child.

We will consider the evidence provided and consult with the headteacher at the preferred school(s). We will notify you in writing whether or not your application has been successful when the offers are made for Reception places.

Note: if your request is successful, there is no guarantee your child will remain out of year the whole of their time at school. The most appropriate placement for your child will be reviewed by the school on a regular basis.


Your child can start school part-time until they reach compulsory school age if you wish. 

The date your child starts school could also be later in the same academic year. In this case we encourage you to discuss this with the headteacher of the preferred or allocated school.

Summer Born Children (children born between 1 April and 31 August)

Parents who choose not to send their child to school until they reach the compulsory school age of 5, have the right to apply for admission into Reception rather than Year 1.

You must make your application by 15 January, supported by information that outlines why your child should not go into Year 1 alongside children within the correct age group.

Note: we cannot keep a space available in the correct age group for a year if you choose not to admit your child at the normal age of entry (September after a child turns 4). 


You must make an application to ensure that your child is considered for a place at your preferred school. Children are not automatically allocated a place in reception and do not automatically transfer from nursery to reception.


The school will have made a note of your interest for your child to start at the school. This does not mean that you have applied.  You must still make an official application.


You must still make an application for your preferred school. Available places are then allocated using the relevant admission arrangements.


Yes, you must make an application.  Attendance at nursery does not give any priority for admission into reception.  Your application will be considered alongside all others and places will be allocated in line with the relevant admission arrangements.


You must still make an application even if you want your child to attend the affiliated junior school.


You can check the catchment area using the schools guide for addresses within Staffordshire.

Your child will not be considered for a place at your catchment area school unless it is named as one of your preferred schools on your application.

Please also note there is no guaranteed admission to your catchment area school.  Allocations will be dependent on the availability of spaces in the relevant year group.  In addition, there are now 14 schools in Staffordshire who do not give priority for admission to catchment area children.

Catchment areas are also subject to regular review and may change.


You can find information about schools in Staffordshire using the Schools Guide.

You can enter a postcode or part of a road name. Then select the type of school you are interested in. This will give you a list of up to 40 schools closest to that address.


You are able to name up to three schools in your application and if you wish to apply for more you should let us know. No extra weighting is given for the number of times you include a school on your form.

The majority of parents and carers in Staffordshire get one of their preferred schools (99% in 2023). You must still consider the possibility of not getting your school preferences. This is particularly the case if your preference is for a school that is not within your catchment area.


When making an application, you must name all the schools where you wish your child to be considered for a place in order of your preferences. This includes any maintained schools, academies, foundation and voluntary aided schools either within or outside of Staffordshire.

Please view types of schools for more information.


If you live in Staffordshire and you only list one school and your child cannot be offered a place at that school, a place will be offered at a school with spaces available.  There may have been other schools that you would have preferred your child to go to.


If you are a Staffordshire resident you will still need to make an application via Staffordshire County Council even if you want to apply to a school in another authority.  This is because we exchange details of pupils applying for schools outside Staffordshire with all of our neighbouring authorities as part of the co-ordinated admission scheme.

You should view the admission arrangements information so you will know your chances of getting a school place there.


You can apply for places at schools both within and outside Staffordshire on the application provided by your home authority. You cannot apply directly to Staffordshire.


Staffordshire County Council does not operate a ‘first preference first’ or ‘first come first served basis’.  This means that every school listed on your application will be considered individually and only against the school’s admission arrangements.

If you can be offered a place at more than one of the schools detailed on your application, a place will be allocated at the school ranked highest. If a place cannot be offered at any of your preferred schools, a place will be allocated at an alternative school where places are still available and advised about the independent appeals process.


Some Staffordshire schools may ask you to provide additional information or submit a supplementary form.

For schools outside Staffordshire, you must contact the relevant admission authority and complete any additional or supplementary information in line with any deadlines that they specify.

Please note: If you wish to provide evidence to support medical grounds or other exceptional circumstances you must obtain the necessary evidence as specified within the admission arrangements. We will not seek to obtain this information on your behalf even if you refer to it in your application.  Please email or post any additional information directly to the school admissions team marked clearly with:

  • The name of the child
  • The school requiring the information
  • Whether the application was made online or by other means

For academies, foundation and aided schools, it is not always the case that this criteria is relevant, please check individual admission arrangements to see the criteria used to allocate school places at particular schools.

For community and voluntary controlled schools, children must have current exceptional circumstances and also demonstrate that they will suffer hardship if they are unable to attend the preferred school. Hardship means severe suffering of any kind, not merely difficulty, inconvenience or mild to moderate emotional distress, which is likely to be experienced as a result of the child attending a different school.  There are very few applications that meet the threshold for admission under this criteria (please read the admission arrangements carefully).


For children starting school in September 2024, applications will close on 15 January 2024.

What happens if I apply after this date?

Late applications for schools for which Staffordshire is the admission authority, i.e. community and voluntary controlled schools, will be considered alongside those applicants who applied on time wherever possible. 

If places have already been allocated, late applicants will only be considered afterwards. If one of your preferred schools is not a Staffordshire community or voluntary controlled school then the relevant admission authority may decide not to process your application until after the 16 April, and therefore after places have been allocated.

A late application does not affect the right of appeal or the right to be placed on a school’s waiting list. 

Last year there were over 200 late applications.  This may have affected the outcome of these applications.


If you live in Staffordshire and you applied online, you should receive an automatic email on 16 April 2024.

If you applied using a paper application form, your offer letter will be posted second class on 16 April 2024. You will not be advised of the outcome over the telephone.

If you wish to change your preferences to include schools not previously named or wish to change your preferences after the offer date of 16 April 2024 you will need to email admissions@staffordshire.gov.uk to make a late application.  Your application will be administered in line with the late application process detailed in the relevant admission arrangements.


Waiting List

If your child has not been offered a place at your preferred community or voluntary controlled school then your child's name will automatically be placed on a waiting list. A child's position on the waiting list is not fixed and can be subject to change during the year i.e. they can go up or down the list as other children are added.

If the number of places offered falls below the schools published admission number then places will be offered to pupils on the waiting list. Pupils names are held on the waiting list in accordance with the admission arrangements. The lists are kept until the 31 December in the year of admission.


You also have a right of appeal to an independent panel.


Please view our information regarding the in year admissions process.

You will also find information on the link above relating to a move from overseas, the in year admissions process for looked after children and the process for if your child has been excluded.


Please note that a child having received or being in receipt of free transport to a particular school does not guarantee that free transport will be provided to any other siblings.  Applications will be assessed under the policy, road and school network in place at that time.

Be sure to understand the entitlement to travel assistance and consider how you child will get to school before making a school place application.

Children attending their catchment or closest school where the home address is over 2 miles from the school are entitled to free travel assistance.

More information is available on the free transport for under 16s web page. 

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