Skip to content

The step-by-step guide to normal round school admissions in September 2022


Published

Last Updated

Introduction

The information in this guide is for the academic year 2022/23 and describes the process from pre-school into a primary or infant school and transfers into junior schools and secondary schools as well as non-typical admission schools and sixth forms.

You will be able to make an application at each transfer point for a place at the next school in your child’s education career.

You can download a PDF version of this school admissions guide if you want to.

How the admissions system works

Children who are entiled to a place in a state-funded school must apply for admission – parents and carers do this for them (although young people can apply for themselves if they want to start at a school after their 16th birthday).

Places are not allocated without an application and no child has an automatic right to a place at a particular school.

Applications at the normal round are made by parents to the local authority (LA) where the child lives, not to the school or to the LA where the school is located.

In Devon, we process over 8000 normal round applications for places in primary schools and over 7000 applications for secondary schools.

All normal round applications for primary and secondary schools are coordinated by LAs across the country so that every child is offered a place at a school on the same day. In Devon, this is within our Normal Round Coordinated Admissions Scheme.

Coordination makes the system fair, consistent and transparent. Every child will be offered a place but none will have more than one offer as that could mean another child would be refused their application unnecessarily.

With coordinated admissions, parents name the schools they want to apply for on the Common Application Form (CAF) provided by the LA. This is called expressing a preference for a school.

LAs are responsible for coordinating admissions within their area and working with other LAs where applications are made across LA boundaries.

Coordination ensures that children are offered places at the schools they most want if there are enough spaces and applications are prioritised fairly if there are more applications than there are places available: when the school is over-subscribed.

At the normal round, schools don’t send offers to parents, that’s done by the LA where the child actually lives.

Parents have the right of appeal against a decision to refuse admission to a school and there will be a waiting list at least until the end of the first term.

Admission to sixth form is not coordinated by the LA. Applications are made to each sixth form or post-16 setting.

Normal round admissions

Most children are admitted at the normal point of entry for a school. This is generally the earliest point that children can enter the school and it varies according to the type of school:

  • First, infant and primary schools – the reception year
  • Junior schools – year 3
  • Middle deemed primary schools – year 5 (there are none in Devon but parents can apply for a school close to the Devon border or elsewhere if they are moving during the year)
  • Secondary schools – year 7
  • High schools deemed secondary schools – year 8 (again, there are none in Devon)
  • Studio schools and university technical colleges (UTCs) – year 9 or 10
  • Sixth forms – year 12

When a school is newly opened or expanded, it can also have a one-off normal point of entry. For example, a new primary school might open with children just in reception, year 1 and year 2.

Find information about in-year admissions and the in-year fair access protocol here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and school admissions

The last two academic years were significantly disrupted by precautions put in place to reduce transmission of COVID-19. This included partial closures of all schools with on-site provision being restricted to vulnerable children and children of key workers.

The timetable for school admission appeals and their format were amended by emergency regulations issued by central government.

There have been variations sought to published admission arrangements with regard to dates for school entrance testing and attendance at churches and places of worship as they impact on eligibility to priority on faith grounds.

Devon increased the number of preferences that can be made by parents making applications for the normal round secondary transfer for 2021 from three to four. This has not been repeated for 2022/23.

It is possible that further or renewed measures may be taken during 2021/22 and affecting the application and allocation process for 2022/23. There are currently other amendments or variations to the admission arrangements that operate in Devon. Should circumstances require other measures to be taken that impact on applications, allocations or appeals, information will be updated at school admissions and in this composite prospectus.

Who can apply for a school place?

You can apply for a school place if you are the parent or carer of a child or you are a social worker or other LA officer exercising corporate parental responsibility for a child in care. If you don’t live at the same address as the child, you should use the address where the child lives.

You must apply using a Devon CAF if the child lives in Devon – that does not include the Torbay Council or Plymouth City Council area. You must use the CAF from the other LA if the child lives in another LA area.

If a house move is planned, the application must be made to the LA that will still be the home LA on the national offer date. Evidence of a new address may be required.

What is the timetable for the 2022 normal round?

Timetable for 2022/23 intake Primary year groups for infant, primary and junior schools Secondary year groups for secondary and studio schools and UTCs
When are applications open? 15 November 2021 1 September 2021
When are 11 + and other tests? September and October
When is the closing date? 15 January 2022 31 October
When are applications processed? 18 February 4 February 2022
When is the offer date? 19 April 1 March
When is the second processing date? 23 May 15 March
When is the second offer date? 27 May 8 April
When are the appeals scheduled? June and July May and June

Choosing a school: preferring a school

Choice and preference

As a parent of a child living in Devon, you can name up to three different schools on our CAF in the order you would most like your child to attend. Your most preferred school would be preference one. You don’t have to name three schools.

When you do this, you are expressing a preference for the school you wish your child to attend. Preference is not the same as choice – you cannot choose a particular school. We will always try to provide a place according to your preference but some schools will have more applications for admission than the number of places available.

Some applications will be refused so we advise any parent to consider putting more than one school, including one designated for your child’s home address (the catchment school).

Cooordinated admissions

Local authorities are legally required to make the admissions process fairer for children and families and to make sure that every child who needs a school place for the academic year starting in September is offered one, but only one, school place in response to an application.

To do this, we operate a coordinated admissions scheme that requires all schools to work with us and enable you to apply for an appropriate school. You can view our admissions scheme at arrangements and policies.

Types of schools – who is responsible for admissions arrangements and decisions?

  • C – community non-denominational schools – Devon County Council
  • VC – voluntary controlled schools – Devon County Council
  • VA – voluntary aided church schools – the school governing body
  • F – foundation, non-denominational schools – the school governing body
  • A – academy schools, including free schools, studio schools and UTCs – the academy trust

All schools operate within the terms of the law, their own published admissions policy and Devon’s coordinated admissions scheme.

Three simple steps

1. Research

Before you apply, you should do some research. We recommend that you:

  • read this guide
  • read the school information
  • find out what the schools have to offer your child
  • visit schools you’re interested in or access their virtual open evenings, if possible
  • read the school’s prospectus
  • know which school is designated for your child’s address
  • understand what equally ranked preference means
  • be aware of the school transport policy
  • contact the School Admissions Team or the school if you have any questions
  • check which LA area the child lives in (the home LA)
  • check whether a Supplementary Information Form (SIF) or another form of evidence is required by the school for specific oversubscription criteria

2. Apply

When making an application, you should:

  • complete a registration form for the child to take a test for a secondary selective school if appropriate
  • complete a home LA CAF. If that’s Devon, apply using the Devon Citizens Portal
  • complete a SIF if this is required by the school
  • express a preference for one, two or three schools
  • consider naming your designated (catchment) school as one of your preferences
  • provide accurate and complete information

3. Apply on time

Please be aware that:

  • the closing date for secondary year groups is 31 October
  • the closing date for primary year groups is 15 January
  • you can’t apply online after the closing date
  • if you use a paper form, hand it to the school you prefer the most, or post it to the Admissions Team
  • if your application is late, places at the schools you prefer may already have been filled – no places are held in reserve
  • if your application is late you may be responsible for transport to and from a school further away from your home

You must apply for a school place

You must apply for a school place even if:

  • you have another child already on roll at the school
  • your child attends a nursery or other early years setting on the same site
  • it is the school designated for your address

No places are held in reserve in case you are not offered a place at another school, change your mind or apply late.

If you aren’t successful with any application, you can’t assume that there will still be a vacancy at your catchment school – it may be full. We advise every parent to consider naming a catchment school as one of the preferences.

If you don’t put a particular school on your form, it won’t be considered for you unless it is the nearest one to home with a vacancy but that will only be after every application has been dealt with. (For studio schools and UTCs, if you don’t make an application, we will assume you want your child to stay at his or her secondary school.)

When we ask you to tell us about your circumstances, that must be on your application form, on a school SIF or separately in writing.

Do:

  • make sure that your child is resident in the Devon County Council area (not in Torbay or the city of Plymouth)
  • complete a Devon CAF using the Devon Citizens Portal and submit it by the closing date
  • complete a paper CAF if you can’t apply online and return it by the closing date or as soon as possible
  • express a preference for one, two or three schools
  • consider how you will get your child to school
  • consider naming your catchment school as one of the preferences
  • tell us in writing if you have another child already at the school or new to the school
  • provide evidence if you feel there are exceptional reasons for your preference; why you feel a place must be made available at a specific school – we would expect this to only apply to a parent’s first preference school and where ‘exceptional need’ is an oversubscription criterion for that school
  • tell us in writing if your circumstances change
  • tell us in writing if you know your child’s address is going to change before September
  • check whether any school you are interested in asks you to complete a SIF or provide a letter from a priest
  • return your SIF or letter to the school itself by the closing date or as soon as possible

Don’t:

  • assume that you don’t need to apply for your catchment school – you must tell us you want a place
  • assume that you don’t need to apply for the school where you already have other children – you must tell us you want a place
  • name the same school three times – this will be considered as one preference a you cannot name the same school more than once online
  • name a school if you don’t want a place there

Equally ranked preferences and the application process

The application process enables parents to express a preference for any state-funded school in Devon or elsewhere in England. We will do our best to meet that preference by coordinating applications with schools and other LAs. We publish information about schools to help parents in choosing their preferences.

Each school will have a website and most will have a prospectus (available direct from the school). We would advise parents to look at information for any school being considered as a preference. There are details about schools in the admissions directory.

Ofsted provides reports of recent school inspections and the Department for Education publishes school achievement and attainment tables.

All preferences will be considered on the basis of equal ranking. This means that the schools parents put on the application form will be considered without reference to whether they were ranked first, second or third.

If a parent could be offered a place at more than one of the preferences, the offer will be for the school the parent ranked the highest that is able to offer a place. The coordinated admissions process provides a way of ensuring that, as far as it is practical, every parent who applies on time receives a single offer of a school place on the same day.

Admission authorities will not know a parent’s order of preference. This is because they don’t need to know it to reach a decision so parents can be confident that an application for a school further away from home will not put at risk an application for another school such as the catchment school.

Parents should apply for schools in the order they would most like a place.

Published admission numbers (PANs)

All schools must have a PAN for their normal intake year. This is the number of places planned for at that school for this intake. The PAN is the number of places when the school believes it is full. The PANs for each school are listed at devon.cc/schoollist

The PAN is the minimum number of places that will be allocated to the intake for September if there are enough applications. If there are more applications and the school believes it could, for instance, reorganise and admit another class, the PAN will be increased. The school must be satisfied that it has the resources to do so and inform the LA in time to amend the allocation process.

The LA will use the PANs and the ranked list of applications for each school in the process of allocating a place for each child. If we are unable to meet any preference for a Devon child, we will allocate a place at the (closest) catchment school for his or her address (but only if there is a vacancy remaining there) or at the nearest school to home with a vacancy. We may liaise with our neighbouring LAs if the nearest alternative is outside Devon. There is a duty for DCC to ensure a place is offered.

If a child doesn’t live in Devon and we can’t meet preferences for Devon schools, we will not offer an alternative school. The responsibility to do that lies with which ever is the child’s home local authority.

Residency

Applications are considered on the basis of the address from which a child will attend school. This is very important when a school is oversubscribed as a child’s priority for a place is affected by where he or she lives.

Proof of address and residency may be required by the admissions authority for a school. Offers can be withdrawn if there has been a fraudulent or intentionally misleading application so please be honest and up to date.

Moving house

You must inform us immediately of a change of address, even if an intention to move was mentioned on the application form.

You may be required to provide supporting evidence to show the home address has changed. Documents that can be used are tenancy agreements (if applicable), Council Tax and utility bills, Child Tax Credit or Child Benefit documents and any other information considered relevant to the application, including the disposal of the previous home.

The decision of whether a new address is accepted lies with the admission authority for the school. It is important to keep us informed, including where you believe that you will be moving.

How do parents apply?

Apply online using the Devon Citizens Portal or by using the paper version of the CAF. In recent years, over 95% of applications have been made online.

An application can be changed at any time up to the closing date. If you apply online, you can view your offer online on the offer date. You can apply from home 24 hours a day and you’ll receive confirmation that your application has been received.

To apply online, you’ll be asked to create an account that is protected by a password. When you submit an application, we’ll acknowledge it by email.

If you return to your online account to make a change, this will automatically withdraw your application. You would have to press the submit button again to ensure this new application is submitted. You’ll get another email to confirm we’ve received this new application.

Please note that we’ll only discuss your application with you or someone you write to tell us we can discuss it with.

Which application form?

Online applications are made into the transfer group appropriate for a child’s age.

For paper applications, there is a Devon form for each different transfer group:

Form Key stage Normal round into
D-CAF1 1 Reception
D-CAF2 2 Junior school
D-CAF3 3 Secondary school
D-CAF4 4 Studio school/UTC
D-CAF5 5 Sixth form

When to apply?

Online applications are made into the transfer group appropriate for a child’s age.

The application period for this and for the paper application forms are the same each year:

  • D-CAF1 – 15 November to 15 January
  • D-CAF2 – 15 November to 15 January
  • D-CAF3 – 1 September to 31 October
  • D-CAF4 – 1 September to 31 October

No online applications, only use this form or the school’s own form:

  • D-CAF5 – See the website for each sixth form

You can still apply after the closing date using a paper application form. Your application will be late and considered after applications that were submitted on time unless your reason for being late is accepted. This would generally be where you were unable to apply on time or are moving house and would have had other preferences for schools elsewhere.

Applications will only be processed for the first round of offers up to the processing date for the transfer group.

Priority for admission: oversubscription criteria

If a school has more applications than places, decisions have to be taken about how to prioritise them.

The admissions authority for each school will have consulted on and published oversubscription criteria in advance so it is clear to everyone how the applications will be prioritised.

These criteria are only used if the school is oversubscribed so, if there are spare places, it doesn’t matter if your child lives outside the school’s catchment or is not of that school’s faith.

Oversubscription criteria in Devon schools

Below are the criteria used by the different schools in Devon. Not all apply to each school – you can see which criteria each school uses here.

Please note that meeting any of these criteria doesn’t guarantee a place; they determine how much priority a child has for a place at that school. Oversubscription criteria are reviewed annually and can change from one year to the next. You should not assume they will be the same in a future year.

Schools in other LA areas may have different definitions of what they means by home address, sibling, faith eligibility or other aspects of admissions. You should contact them or their LA to check and also to see whether there are SIFs you may need to complete as well as the home LA common application form.

Looked after children (LAC), former LAC priority and children adopted from state care outside England

All schools must have this as the number one over-subscription criterion (it could be LAC of the school’s faith for a faith school).

At the normal round, we wouldn’t anticipate that a category one child would be refused admission because of the small number of eligible children likely to apply for any one school. By ‘children who were formerly looked after’, we mean those children who were immediately adopted or made the subject of a child arrangements order or special guardianship order when they stopped being looked after.

Every state-funded school in Devon complies with this legal requirement. When we say LAC, it has the same general meaning as a child in care. Applications must be made by the person or the LA with parental responsibility, not by a foster carer.

If you are an adoptive parent, you don’t have to mention this on an application form though if you don’t, your child cannot be prioritised under this criterion.

Looked after children will be admitted to schools that are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. Schools requiring improvement are considered in exceptional circumstances.

Please provide contact details to confirm care status, particularly for children previously in care but now adopted, made the subject of a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order. We will need to confirm that the child was in care immediately before the order was issued.

Exceptional need priority

For most Devon schools, there is priority if a parent can demonstrate an exceptional need to attend that school and only that school. This could be a need of the child or the parent or both.

A family may have very challenging circumstances but for admissions priority, the circumstances must mean that only that school could meet the child’s needs.

Every request is considered on its own merits, but a preference to attend a school because friends are expected to go there, it would be easier for transport or child-care arrangements are not likely to be accepted as exceptional. This priority is agreed in a very small number of cases.

Successful requests will have independent supporting evidence which must indicate why that school is required, not simply describe the medical or social need. Where exceptional need is agreed, the application is prioritised – it isn’t a guarantee of admission.

Parents are not expected to request exceptional needs priority for a second or third preference – only one school could be the only school that could meet a child’s needs.

It is your responsibility as a parent to provide supporting evidence to be considered under this criterion. You must complete an Exceptional Needs SIF.

Designated or catchment area priority

Almost every address in Devon has a designated primary and a designated secondary school. A small number have more than one. Children living in a school catchment area will have priority for admissions. This isn’t a guarantee for admission but in most cases an application will be successful if submitted on time.

Where an address is in the catchment area for a school and is further than the walking distance of two miles for primary children and three miles for secondary children, there is an entitlement to free transport in Devon.

Where there is more than one catchment school, DCC will nominate one school for free transport on catchment school grounds.

Children of staff priority

Most Devon schools give priority to children of members of staff who have been working there for at least two years though it can also apply where the member of staff has been recruited within the previous two years to fill a vacancy for which there was a skills shortage.

Staff priority can only be at one school, where the parent works for all or most of the time.

Sibling priority

Most Devon schools give priority to children who have a brother or sister on roll at the school or at another named school with close links to it when the application is made. This means that a reception child who starts in September will have priority even though an older sibling in year 6 will have left the school in July.

For most schools, a child is an eligible sibling if he or she lives within the same household, regardless of the relationship.

Faith priority

Voluntary aided, voluntary controlled schools and some academies with a recognised faith character can prioritise applicants on faith grounds – usually where there is regular attendance at a church for a minimum period of time.

It is your responsibility as a parent to provide supporting evidence to be considered under this criterion. You must complete a Faith SIF.

Feeder or linked school priority

Most secondary and junior schools give priority to children who would join them from named linked or feeder schools. Junior schools name one infant school; secondary schools can name several schools. This priority applies only at the normal round.

Pupil premium priority

Schools can prioritise children who are eligible for the pupil premium, service pupil premium or the early years pupil premium. This has been taken up by the South Devon UTC and by Colyton Grammar School who use this as a tie breaker.

Nursery priority

Some infant or primary schools give priority to children who attend a nursery run by the school. This applies where the child is on roll at a named nursery, run by the school, taking up a free place under the early years entitlement.

Selective schools and priority for aptitude

All primary schools are comprehensive which means that they don’t use selection tests.

Colyton Grammar School is a selective secondary school and admits children who have demonstrated academic ability at the 11+ entrance test. There are no schools in Devon that offer places to children with an aptitude for named subjects.

Reasons for your preference

There is space on the form to tell us about the reasons for your preference. This doesn’t mean the decision of whether a place can be offered will be affected – you must show that there is an exceptional need for that to happen.

Other points to consider for admission

Address, sibling and other changes

We will confirm when a new address has been accepted. Evidence may not be required if the school is undersubscribed or where a new address makes the child a lower priority for admission.

Only one home address will be accepted for a child. Each admission authority will make a decision on what it accepts as the child’s home address, if necessary, according to its own admissions policy. This may be set out by a court order or according to a statement agreed by both parents. Schools will consider all information submitted by either parent.

Where more than one adult shares parental responsibility and if the adults live at different addresses, it is important that an agreement be reached on which schools to apply for, prior to making the application.

When parents live separately and the child spends time with each parent, the home address will be treated as the place where the child sleeps for most of the school week, such as Sunday night to Thursday night inclusive.

If the child spends equal amounts of time at two addresses, the parents must agree which address they wish to be the child’s main address. Documentary evidence of the address may be required together with evidence of occupation at the property concerned.

An address used for childcare arrangements will not be accepted as a child’s home address for admissions purposes.

If you have another child who is offered a place at the school after the closing date for applications but before the processing date and you tell us about it in writing, he or she will be counted as a sibling in this application process.

The application is ‘made’ when you submit it or later if you make an amendment with new information.

Multiple birth siblings

There is a presumption in favour of admission for all if one or more can be admitted but there is no guarantee.

If one twin can be offered the final place, we will try to offer the other twin but it is possible that a school may be able to admit more than its PAN. If this is the case, it will be for you to decide whether to accept one place or to seek places for both twins elsewhere.

Children of UK service personnel

Applications for children of UK service personnel moving to an area must be accompanied by an official government letter that declares a relocation date and a unit postal or quartering area address.

This will be used in considering the application against a school’s oversubscription criteria. There is no additional priority.

Parents with shared responsibility

Very rarely, two parents submit applications for different schools. This can be upsetting for children and we strongly urge parents to reach agreement in the best interests of the child. Where this does not happen and, in the absence of a court order, a place will not be held open at one school once a child has started at another school.

Neither the LA nor the school will intervene in a parental dispute over admissions applications. All applications by persons with parental responsibility will be processed and offers made in the usual way. The LA encourages parents to avoid multiple applications by seeking agreement through mediation or a court order where necessary.

Where a person with parental responsibility asks for information about an application, we will tell them which schools have been named, who the applicant was and the outcome. We will not share information about reasons for applications and will withhold information where there are legal grounds to do so.

We may only respond to the parent who has completed the application form. Where we are aware that a parent has not shared information about the preference with the other parent, we will use the following procedure if we receive a request for information from one of the parents:

  • We will contact both parents to establish their right to view the information.
  • Once parental responsibility has been confirmed, we will send the information they are entitled to.

If parents make conflicting applications, it may be necessary to process both and, potentially, offer two places for one child. If so, and the parents cannot reach an agreement and there is no relevant court order in place, the offer for school A will lapse when the child is admitted to school B.

Waiting lists

Waiting lists are kept in priority order using each school’s oversubscription criteria. A child’s position could go down as well as up.

Children who arrive after 31 August and who don’t have a school place will take priority for admission over children on the waiting list under the in-year coordinated admissions scheme and the DCC in-year fair access protocol.

Waiting lists are recalculated from 1 September to remove priority for children who attended a linked or feeder school.

Information on the application form

Each school’s admissions policy will tell you what the oversubscription criteria are and whether you should consider completing a school SIF.

You should tell us about brothers and sisters at a school where this would give priority for admission, whether your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan, is looked after by a LA or was looked after and any other information you want to be taken into consideration.

For some schools, you may also need to complete a SIF if you want your application to be prioritised on faith grounds or because you or your partner is a member of staff at the school or because there is an exceptional need to attend that school.

The admission authority for the school will be unable to take information into account if you do not tell it on the form. This is particularly important for infant and primary school key stage one classes which are organised with 30 children and one teacher.

Any appeals for these places will be infant class size reviews of the original decision. New information or changes in circumstances will not be considered by the appeal panel so it is important that you as a parent say everything you want to say on the original application.

You need to make sure that the information you give is complete and accurate. The offer will be withdrawn If there is clear evidence that a parent has given fraudulent or misleading information, particularly to gain an advantage over others and if the correct information would have meant they’d be refused admission. Please be aware of this when completing and signing the application form.

Places are offered on the basis of the address from which your child is to attend school. This may be different to the address your child lived at when the application was considered.

If your circumstances change during the process or if you know your circumstances are going to change (for example, you move house or know you will be moving house before your child starts at the school) you must tell us in writing.

If we or the school are unable to get in touch with you, your school place may have to be offered to another child. If you decide that you no longer require a place that we have offered, please let us know in writing as soon as possible.

Information you provide on application forms will be made available to an appeal panel to help to understand your circumstances and preferences.

Academy and foundation conversations

A number of schools have converted to academy status, others may do so and new schools may open.

Other schools have converted to become foundation schools with or without a co-operative trust. They are schools maintained by the LA but with responsibility for their own admission arrangements.

Academies and foundation schools are legally bound to manage admissions fairly in the same way as all other state-funded schools.

Your questions

What does the LA do with my application?

We will verify the details on your application with data we already hold. We will rank preferences for Devon community and VC schools.

Details of preferences for Devon VA, foundation, academy and free schools will be passed to them to consider.

Details of preferences for schools elsewhere in England will be passed to the LA in those areas for consideration by the relevant admission authorities there.

Schools are not told whether they were your first, second or third preference as that information isn’t required to operate their oversubscription criteria.

We will receive ranked lists back from schools and other LAs. We’ll use them to process applications so that a place is offered for each child – at the most-preferred school able to offer a place or at an alternative if no preference can be met.

We will make an offer on behalf of the schools, available either online or by sending you an email or letter.

Which schools can I apply for through this process?

Any state-funded school in England (except special schools): including community, voluntary controlled, voluntary aided, foundation, academy, free, studio schools and UTCs.

You can’t apply for a school outside of England. You can’t apply for an independent (private) school. If you would like places at any school other than an English state-funded school, you must contact the school or relevant body directly. Some UTCs and studio schools may require you to apply to them directly.

You must also apply directly to sixth forms and further education colleges.

Will my preference be met?

Yes, unless meeting your preference would ‘prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources’.

As long as there are places available at a school, preferences will be met. For many schools, more applications will be received than the number of places available. If so, applications are prioritised on the basis of the school’s published oversubscription criteria, details of which are in a school’s admissions policy.

What if a school is oversubscribed?

If a school has more applications than places, the admission authority will operate its published oversubscription criteria to prioritise applications. Places will be offered at least up to the school’s PAN.

What if a school is not oversubscribed?

Schools rank their applications but if there are fewer (or the same number of) applications than places available its oversubscription criteria will not be used and no applicant requiring a place will be refused.

You won’t be offered a place, however, if another school you ranked higher can also offer a place. If your preferred school is undersubscribed, your child’s address doesn’t matter – though of course, you must be able to get your child to and from school.

There is no obligation for a school to admit a child who has been permanently excluded twice, with the most recent exclusion being within the last 2 years.

What if I name a school twice?

There is no point in writing the same school down more than once – this will count as one preference and it means you may miss out on another school you may have preferred over the school you are offered. You cannot name the same school more than once on the online system.

What if I only name one school?

If you only name one school and you are refused, we will allocate a place at your catchment school or the nearest school with a vacancy after other children have been allocated, depending on whether there are any vacancies left.

This may be at a school you didn’t want so, to increase your chances of being allocated a place at a school you would like, we recommend you name more than one.

Naming just one won’t affect whether a place can be allocated there. (Please bear in mind that there is no compulsion for a child to transfer from a secondary school to a studio school or UTC. If an application is refused, we will not look to offer an alternative.)

What if I just want my local school?

We can’t assume that you want a place at the catchment school for your address or the school your other children attend. You may have other plans for your child’s education or are moving away from the area. You must make an application.

What if I don't apply?

If you don’t make a reception application for your child we will not allocate a place for you.

If your child is in a secondary school and you don’t make an application for a studio school or UTC, we will not allocate a new school.

If your child is in year 2 at a state-funded infant school and you don’t make an application, we may allocate a place in year 3 elsewhere.

If your child is in year 6 of a state-funded primary or junior school and you don’t make an application, we may allocate a place at a secondary school.

We will only allocate a place if your child is coming to the end of their time at a state-funded school – year 2 in an infant school or year 6 in a junior or primary school.

You should not rely on this process to allocate the school you want without making an application.

What about children at all-through schools?

If your child is in year 2 or year 6 of an all-through school, we will assume you want to stay at that school. The school place is not at risk.

You can, however, apply to transfer to year 3 of a junior school or to year 7 at a secondary school if you wish. It can be helpful to let us know either way.

What if I don't want a particular school?

Don’t name a school if you don’t want a place there. We will always try to meet your preference. If we can’t offer you a place at one of your preferences, the school we offer might be one you didn’t want. No places are held in reserve.

Where a place is offered at a school further away than could have been offered, you may be responsible for getting your child to and from school.

What if I only complete a SIF?

You won’t have made a valid application if you just complete a SIF – you must complete the LA CAF as well.

Similarly, if you complete a selection test registration form and your child sits the test – you must complete the LA CAF as well.

What if I don't complete a SIF?

If you don’t feel your child is eligible for priority on, for example, faith grounds at that school then there is no need to complete a SIF. So long as you complete the LA form your application will be processed.

If the school does provide a SIF and you don’t complete it, your child can’t be prioritised according to the relevant over-subscription criterion.

What if I change my mind?

If you change your mind about the schools you prefer or the order of your preferences, let us know immediately. If it’s before the closing date, you can amend your application with new preferences and the first application will be disregarded. Please ensure the same person updates or signs a fresh application.

If it is after this, a change of preference or new request may be considered for the second round of offers. It’s likely that some schools will be full and we may not be able to offer you the place you want.

Your new or updated application will be considered as late if you cannot establish there was a good reason for not being able to make it on time.

What if my application is late?

Late applications will receive the offer of a school place but not at the expense of an application which was on time or considered to be on time.

Unless you can demonstrate that you were unable to apply by the closing date – you may have moved house or an illness or other circumstance prevented you from applying on time – your application will be considered as late.

Where a change of preference is as a result of updated information about a new school, we will consider it to be on time up to the processing date. All children whose applications were on time will be allocated a school place before late applications. If you are late, it may be that your local or designated school is full.

Application after closing date but before the processing date

Your application will be considered to be on-time if your reason for missing the closing date is accepted by the admissions authority for the school. It will be considered alongside other applications and a place offered on the offer date

Your application is late if your reason is not accepted by the admissions authority for the It will be considered after on-time applications and a place offered on the offer date

Application after the processing date

No further applications or changes of preference will be accepted for the offer date. It may not be possible to take into account changes in circumstances.

Late applications will go forward alongside all others pending to a second round of allocations on the second offer date. All outstanding applications will be considered together for the second offer date.

Application after the second processing date

These will be processed as they are received. Places will be offered when there are vacancies or the child’s name will be added to the waiting list in order of the school’s own oversubscription order.

Application after 31 August

These will be considered as in-year admissions.

When will I know the result?

On the national offer date for primary and secondary places. If you apply online you will receive an email on the offer date. It is your responsibility to keep your email address updated.

You can also log into your online account on the offer date to find out which school has been offered. Only applications submitted using the online facility will receive an offer by email.

We will send a letter by second class post on the offer date where it is expedient to do so.

When you receive an offer

If we’ve met your preference and your child lives in Devon, we assume the offer is accepted. We don’t expect you to write to tell us you accept it. Your school will be in contact shortly afterward and all future contact should be between you and the school.

If you don’t wish to accept an offer, please confirm this in writing or email to the LA. This should be by the person who made the application as we will not accept that an offer has been declined by a third party.

If you don’t respond to the school when it gets in touch with you, we will also try and make contact with you. If we can’t then the offer may be withdrawn and the place offered to another child. You should be aware of the offer date if you are likely to be away on holiday and unable to access your emails or post.

If your application is refused – waiting lists and the right of appeal

Your child’s name will be placed on a waiting list and you will have the right of appeal to an admissions appeal panel, independent of the school. When we inform you of your offer, we will explain how the appeals process works. If you are refused a place, you can also make additional preferences.

The offer is not affected if you appeal. You don’t risk that place by appealing elsewhere.

If you are refused at a school in another LA area you may need to contact the school to find out about their appeals process.

Can I apply for other schools if I am unhappy about the offer I received?

Yes. You can add further preferences or remove existing preferences. You can also change the order of your preferences. The new set of preferences will be considered for the second round of offers and later.

Could my offer be withdrawn?

Ordinarily, no. Your offer will remain unless:

  • you turn it down in writing
  • you are offered a higher preference
  • you have provided us with fraudulent or misleading information on your application form (for instance a false claim to be living at a particular address or a false claim to have a sibling link) which prevented an offer to a child who would have been given the place – we may withdraw your offer of a place

We or the admission authority may investigate any concerns or allegations about an application and may withdraw the offer if it is considered that there is sufficient evidence that an applicant has made a fraudulent claim or provided misleading information.

If a place is withdrawn, the child will be offered a place at an alternative school that still has places available. This may be further away from home than would have been offered previously.

When will I get a place if my child is on the waiting list?

You should not assume that a place will be offered to children on a waiting list. This can only happen where other children decline their offer (if they are moving away from the area, if they have arrangements confirmed for an independent school or elective home education, if they are themselves offered a place from the waiting list for a higher preference or if they are successful at appeal for another school).

Neither the LA nor the school can guarantee when places will become available.

You should be aware that your child’s place on the waiting list may fall. This can happen where other children with a higher priority for admission make an application for the school, where a child’s priority increases because they move closer to the school or where the random allocation element of a school’s tie-breaker impacts on your child’s position on the waiting list.

Waiting lists do not operate on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no priority on them according to how long a child’s name has been on it.

Once the new school term starts in September, admissions are managed under the in-year coordinated admissions scheme and the in-year fair access protocol. Children may be allocated places ahead of children on a waiting list.

What if my child is educated out of their normal age group?

Some children are being educated out of their normal age group. This could be, for example, if they have been back-yeared or if they are summer-born and had delayed admission when the rest of their normal age group were moving into year 1.

If these children are going to remain at primary school until the end of their year 6, this means that when they transfer to secondary school, they would be of year 8 age. In these circumstances, parents will need to seek agreement from the admission authorities of their preferred school(s) that they can apply for year 7, rather than having to go straight into year 8.

To do this, you should approach your preferred schools in advance and get their views. The Admissions Team can assist in this process so that you can ask for your child to continue being educated out of their normal age group.

You should not assume that there will be agreement and simply apply out of your child’s normal age group.

School transport

Every child of statutory school age is entitled to free school transport to attend their closest school if further to walk than two miles for primary-age or three miles for secondary-age children. There is additional entitlement for secondary-age children from low-income households and for both groups of Devon residents to a single catchment school (sometimes called a designated school).

Free transport on catchment grounds is limited to one school – recognised by Devon for the purposes of catchment school transport. Our online maps show which this will be across the county. See school designated areas for more information.

Parents can express a preference for any school, but that doesn’t mean there will be free school transport. It is important to check whether there is an entitlement and, if not, consider carefully how your child will get to that school for the whole of the time he or she is there.

Transport for non-entitled students such as foreign exchange students, taking friends home to tea and to work experience placements and induction days is not provided.

How do I check if my child is eligible?

If your child attends the closest available school to home and school is more than two miles away by the shortest walking route (for primary schools) or more than three miles (for secondary schools) you will be entitled to free transport.

You can check your child’s catchment school at school designated areas or by calling 0345 155 1019.

Sidmouth CofE Primary School operates two sites for children in key stage 1: the former All Saints’ Infants and Sidmouth Infants’ Schools. Transport on designated school grounds is only available to the nearer of the two sites to the home address.

How are distances measured?

Walking distances are measured using the shortest available walking route. This may include roads, recognised footpaths and bridleways. Over the walking distance, it is the shortest vehicular route.

This is not the same as school admissions measurements which are as the crow flies, straight-line measurements.

We measure from the entrance to a child’s home to the nearest official entrance to the school grounds. Driveways at home and in schools are not included in the measurement. Distances are measured using Devon’s geographic information system (GIS).

What if I have expressed a preference for a school because of religion or belief?

Secondary-age children from low-income households are entitled to free transport to the nearest faith school between 2 and 15 miles from home. To be eligible, you must have requested priority on faith grounds (where this is part of the school’s oversubscription criteria) or given this as a reason for your application.

St Michael’s CofE Primary Academy, Exeter – the entire parish constitutes the admissions designated area for St Michael’s and covers a number of other Exeter school designated areas. There is no transport entitlement on designated school grounds to St Michael’s.

Whose responsibility is transport to school?

You must make sure that your child gets to and from school. If you are entitled to free transport for your child, that responsibility is met when you take up your entitlement. Otherwise, you must make your own arrangements.

You are encouraged to consider the practicalities of getting to a school that is not within walking distance if it isn’t the designated or nearest.

If I am refused free transport can I appeal?

Yes. We operate two levels of appeals to review decisions. Firstly, a review panel consisting of senior officers of the LA will look at the case you make. There is a further right of appeal to a panel consisting of county councillors.

If free transport is withdrawn can I appeal?

Yes, if you are unhappy with the decision about eligibility for education transport or the withdrawal of transport please contact the Education Transport Team on 0345 155 1019 and explain the problem fully. They will advise you on your options.

Do I have to apply for school transport?

If your child is starting school at the designated or nearest school to the home address in September and lives more than the walking distance from that school, the Education Transport Team will contact you, normally by email, during May or June to let you know your child is entitled to free school transport. If you haven’t been contacted, please ring 0345 155 1019 for advice.

Church of England parishes

The catchments for some faith schools include parishes that extend further than the areas which have been accepted for transport entitlement purposes.

There is no entitlement to free school transport on designated school grounds in these areas. If you live within such an area – that is, inside the school catchment but outside the LA recognised designated area, you will not be entitled to free school transport on designated school grounds – though there may be an entitlement to free transport because the school is the nearest one available.

You can see the designated areas we recognise for transport purposes and exceptions at school designated areas.

You can check whether a parish overlaps with another school’s area by looking at its oversubscription criteria and any map held by the school. This applies to St Helen’s Church of England Primary School to Lady Modiford’s Church of England Primary School.

Travelling to school

It’s our vision that Devon will be the ‘greenest’ county in England and that every child will be able to travel to school as healthily, sustainably and, most of all, as safely as possible.

Please consider when selecting a school for your child, the proximity and accessibility of the school to your home. Daily physical exercise in the form of walking, cycling and walking for a bus or train are all beneficial for your child’s health, as well as being sociable, better for your pocket and better for the local and global environment.

Devon works with a hierarchy of travel options giving priority to walking and cycling, then school and public transport followed lastly by taxi and car travel. For more information email stplans@devon.gov.uk.

Your local school could be filled by ‘positive’ preferences. If you don’t apply for your local or designated school on time your child may be allocated to a school further from home. If this happens any transport arrangements will be your responsibility.

Other local authority areas and transport

A primary school in another county may be closer to your child’s home than the nearest Devon school. If the school in Devon that you would like your child to go to is not your designated school, and there is a closer school across the county boundary, you may not be eligible for free school transport.

If you live close to the boundary and you are thinking of applying for a school that is not the one designated for your child’s home address, please consider how your child will get to school.

Where there are two sites for a school, transport entitlement is measured to the nearest site appropriate for the pupil – this applies with the upper and lower sites of Queen Elizabeth’s in Crediton.

If your child does not have a Statement of Special Educational Need or an Education, Health and Care Plan and is attending a mainstream school, please contact us on 0345 155 1019 if they have special needs or medical issues that affect their ability to get to school or to use the transport that is provided.

Talaton and the surrounding area attract free transport on catchment school grounds for new applications to Payhembury and not Feniton Church of England Primary School.

When can a child start in a primary or infant school?

Children must be in full-time education by the start of the term following their fifth birthday. They don’t have to be in education before then.

This doesn’t necessarily mean being in school – you may decide to educate your child at home. Offers are for full-time admission at the start of the September term following a child’s fourth birthday.

Options for parents

When you are offered a place in reception for September, you have the following options:

  • Full-time admission.
  • Part-time up to statutory school age.
  • Defer admission up to statutory school age and take up your early years entitlement hours in a pre-school setting.
  • Defer admission up to statutory school age within the same academic year and make other arrangements such as your child remaining at home.
  • Decline the offer and delay admission to the next academic year.

You can’t take a part-time place in reception and free sessions in a pre-school setting. You could arrange for additional pre-school hours but you would have to pay for them.

The part-time option in reception is a parental right though parents cannot insist on a particular pattern of attendance.

Deferred admission

As a parent, you have the right to defer your child’s admission until the statutory school age – the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday. This is a decision for you as a parent to make. We would advise you to take all factors into account including the advice of the headteacher at the school, other education professionals and any health or social care professionals working with your child.

If you wish to defer admission, you must inform the headteacher of the school which has been allocated. That place will be held open up to the start of the term after your child’s fifth birthday within that academic year and will not be offered to another child.

If you don’t let the headteacher know and your child doesn’t start on the date offered, the place may be withdrawn and offered to another child.

Summer-born children can’t automatically defer admission and enter school in a reception class in the following September. Parents must make an application for a year 1 place after the summer half-term in 2022. Please see When can my child defer admission?

It is possible that this class may have been filled during the reception year. A place will not have been reserved.

Delayed admission for summer-born children

You may wish your child to start in reception an academic year later than normal. Although it is not necessary, such a request is often supported with social, medical or educational evidence from a relevant professional who is independent of your family.

If your request is agreed by the admission authority for the school, you must then reapply in the next normal round. A place isn’t guaranteed a year in advance as the application will be considered alongside all other applications – there is no additional priority on the grounds that the application is for a delayed place.

Please contact us or the schools you are interested in for further information. It is advisable to consider more than one school in case the school you want is unable to offer a place.

There is a right to request delayed admission on any grounds you wish; there is not a right to that request being allowed by a school.

Early admission

Admission is not offered earlier than the official offer date of September when a child would not have reached his or her fourth birthday.

Parents can request admission as a three-year-old. The school admissions authority will say whether they agree or not.

Who can transfer to a junior school?

Junior schools admit children from the start of year 3 and the intention is that they provide the next school on from infant schools. When children reach the end of year 2 at an infant school, they have to leave and join another school. To enable them to do that, we write to their parents and let them know how to apply. This takes place at the same time that we write to the parents of children known to us in pre-schools who are eligible to apply for a reception place – at the end of October.

Although the large majority of children who start in year 3 at junior schools are from infant schools, it is open to any year 2 child to apply for transfer to a junior school. Those who are at a named feeder infant school will have priority for admission but any Year 2 child can apply to join a junior school as part of the normal round of admissions. To do that, parents can apply online or use the D-CAF2 common application form.

Parents of children in an infant school don’t have to apply for a junior school but they do have to make arrangements for education after year 2. This could be at a primary school, an independent school or to be home educated.

Applications to join year 3 at a primary school are not normal round applications. Instead, the application would be for an in-year admission, made from the summer half-term of year 2. These applications are considered alongside any other applications for a September start in year 3. There is no additional priority for admission to a primary school for children moving from an infant school.

There are seven junior schools in Devon. All are located close to an infant school:

Ilfracombe Infant and Nursery School
Ilfracombe Church of England Junior School

Ladysmith Infants and Nursery School, Exeter
Ladysmith Junior School

Pilton Infants’ School, Barnstaple
Pilton Bluecoat Church of England Academy

St George’s CofE Infants’ School, Northam
St Margaret’s Church of England (Aided) Junior School

St Rumon’s CofE Infants’ School, Tavistock
St Peter’s Church of England Junior School

Stoke Hill Infant and Nursery School, Exeter
Stoke Hill Junior School

Whipton Barton Infant and Nursery School, Exeter
Whipton Barton Junior School

When can my child defer admission?

Fifth birthday Can defer until
1 September – 31 December January, the start of the spring term
1 January – 31 March January or April the start of the summer term
1 April – 31 August January or April or the next September
with a fresh application for a year 1 place or into reception with a request for delayed admission

What about transfers to studio schools and UTCs?

When young people are in the last year of key stage 3 at their secondary school, they are asked to think about their options for key stage 4. This will often be in year 9 although a number of secondary schools operate with three academic years for key stage 4 which means options decisions are taken in year 8.

Options will include GCSE subjects or other, vocational courses. Until recently, these courses for 14-year-olds have been made available only in secondary schools and have, almost always been an internal matter within a school.

A further option is to transfer to a studio school or a university technical college (UTC). These are atypical admission schools that take young people only from key stage 4 onwards and offer them general GCSE subjects and a specialism. Devon’s offers are the Atrium Studio School in Ashburton and the South Devon UTC in Newton Abbot.

Atrium Studio School is an option for students specialising in the built environment. It offers education for students aspiring to professional careers in areas including architecture, interior design, ecology, structural engineering, surveying and planning.

The South Devon UTC is an option for students specialising in engineering, water and the environment.

There are other studio schools and UTCs in neighbouring areas of Plymouth and Torbay.

What are studio schools and UTCs?

They are state-funded schools offering education in key stage 4 and key stage 5 (post-16 education). They are comprehensive schools so there is no selection test.

Young people can choose to seek a place here instead of studying for GCSEs or vocational courses at a secondary school. They have longer days and there is a greater focus on work experience and learning through links with local businesses.

How to apply

Studio schools and UTCs can opt out of normal round coordination and accept applications directly to the schools themselves. The Devon atypical admission schools take part in coordination.

When to apply

The application timescale matches other secondary schools – the closing date is 31 October.

Are they compulsory?

No. There are no studio schools or UTCs in most parts of the county and many young people will be unable to travel to and from them each day.

There is no requirement to transfer from secondary school to a studio school or UTC. Whether a parent or a young person applies to transfer is entirely a matter of preference. We will not assume that any individual will be seeking to transfer but will handle any applications that are made.

For most young people in Devon, the decision will be to stay at their current secondary school as they move from key stage 3 to key stage 4. As with any decision on options, we very much encourage parents and young people to discuss the future in-school, visit other establishments if they wish, and to fully consider what is available locally.

We do not encourage or discourage any particular educational route.

What if I don’t apply?

We will assume that there will be no transfer and that your child will stay at the current secondary school. We will not prompt any family to make an application.

What if an application is refused?

We will assume that your child will remain at their secondary school unless you make a further preference.

There is a right of appeal as for other state-funded schools.

What about applications for sixth forms?

Young people in England reach the end of compulsory education on the last Friday in the June of the academic year of their 16th birthday. There is a requirement to remain in work-based training or education until the age of 18 but the school leaving age is 16.

For most young people, they reach the end of key stage 4 in year 11 when they turn 16. The next step is to move onto post-16 education and key stage 5 with a choice between a school sixth form or a further education (FE) college.

Applications to sixth forms and FE colleges are not managed by local authorities. Young people must apply directly to them – parents apply for education places while a child is of statutory school age, parents or the young people themselves can apply for a post-16 place.

The offer of places will be by each sixth form individually, not by the LA.

For young people who opt to attend a sixth form in year 12, either at a secondary school or a studio school or a UTC, that will either be at the establishment they attended in year 11 or at a new one.

Internal candidates for sixth form

If children stay at their year 11 school (as most do), there is no requirement to make a formal application. This is because he or she is already on roll at that school.

This does not guarantee a place on any particular course as the academic criteia for courses must be met by all candidates unless the admission arrangements allow for this to be waived.

External candidates for sixth form

Young people who want to move to a different sixth form do have to apply. A sixth form can’t refuse admission on behavioural grounds but could do so if it was oversubscribed, just as in any other year group.

There will be a PAN for sixth form where this is a normal intake point for young people. That PAN only relates to external candidates and not those moving from year 11 within the school. The same published academic requirements for the courses themselves apply for external as well as internal candidates.

Which application form?

Devon doesn’t coordinate applications so any application must be direct to the school sixth form. This will either be on an application form for the school or by using a CAF provided by the LA (LAs have to make one available for parents and young people to use – in Devon it is the D-CAF5). The school’s website and admissions policy will make it clear which should be used.

As applications are not coordinated, the closing date and the date when decisions are sent to applicants can vary from one sixth form to the next. Offers for admission may be subject to reaching the required academic standards, confirmed in August when GCSE results are published.

Only external candidates need to complete a formal application form.

All candidates will be asked to complete an options form, telling the school about the subjects of interest. This will be used for planning purposes but will not inform the decision whether the place is available.

Interviews

Sixth forms cannot interview candidates or use the information on application and options forms as grounds to refuse admission.

Guidance meetings will take place – these should enable the young person to make a fully informed decision about a preferred school and preferred courses.

In-year admissions and the in-year fair access protocol

You can apply through us for a place at most state-funded schools in Devon either online using the Devon Citizens Portal or by using our in-year common application form. This is also available by calling 0345 115 1019.

You can apply at any time to change schools in-year, whether you have moved home or have changed your preference for a local school though they not be considered further in advance than eight school weeks – 40 school days – (16 school weeks for children from UK service personnel families).

Moving to a new school is an important step for any child. Sometimes it is necessary because of a house move to a new area. If you are not moving address and would like to change your child’s school, you should take the following into consideration:

  • How will your child cope with learning new rules and having to do things differently, or possibly having missed important work?
  • For secondary school children during key stage 4, will the new school not only be able to offer a place, will they be able to match the GCSE subjects and examination boards?
  • If your child has brothers or sisters at the same school, transferring one child may affect the others. Will it be difficult for you to have children attending different schools? How will you manage if the start and finish times aren’t the same or if your children will need to be dropped of and collected at the same time from two schools? Some schools in Devon are full and may not be able to offer you a place.
  • Will there be an entitlement to free school transport to a new school? If not, how will you get your child to and from school?
  • Will moving schools resolve the difficulties you feel there are at the current school or simply move them elsewhere?
  • Is your move influenced by any recent or ongoing intervention by social care or other agencies prompted by the school? Concerns are likely to be followed up at any school and this may be more effective where your child has adults around them who know them.

In addition to reading the in-year admissions guide, we advise that you sit down with your child and ask them why they want to move to a different school. If they mention that they are being bullied or not getting on with other pupils, you should speak to your child’s class teacher or headteacher first in order to try and resolve the situation.

All schools have an anti-bullying policy that must be followed. If, after doing this, you still have major concerns or are unhappy about the way the school is dealing with your complaint, you should make an appointment to speak to the headteacher. You may also write to the Chair of Governors.

Nevertheless, parents have the right to transfer to a new school whether there is a house move or not. Whether a new school is in the best interests of a child is a matter for a parent to decide – we very much encourage parents to discuss any potential move with staff and the headteacher of the current school to try and resolve any problems.

Sometimes, where a child is struggling and may be at risk of being permanently excluded, a managed move to another school can be helpful in securing a fresh start with additional support from the schools themselves and the LA.

All LAs including Devon County Council operate a fair access protocol that provides for the in-year admission of children in certain circumstances when the school is full and the year group has begun. Our in-year fair access protocol does not apply for normal intake admissions.

Where children cannot secure a state-funded school place in-year, they will be considered either as hard to place or as fair access cases. This does not apply when:

  • a child already has a school place locally
  • a child can be offered a place at a school to which his or her parent has applied for admission

The in-year fair access protocol is a safety net where a child would otherwise not be able to access state-funded education. The LA aims to protect schools from a disproportionate number of challenging children being admitted under the fair access protocol.

For further information, please contact the Admissions Service on 0345 155 1019 or at admissions@devon.gov.uk.

Further information

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

If your child has an EHCP, you can apply in the usual way or by using a hard copy form available from the LA. However, the process of allocating a place is different. Your application will be forwarded to the 0-25 Special Educational Needs Team and they will manage the process which to name a school for your child. The School Admissions Team will not allocate a different school place.

If your child doesn’t have an EHCP but you expect one to be issued, you must make an application in the usual way in case an EHCP isn’t issued or is issued after offers are made for the normal round.

Please tell us on your application that an EHCP may be issued so that the School Admissions Team can liaise with the 0-25 SEN Team. It is important that the LA doesn’t process an application and offer a place in conflict with the EHCP process. Please note that places in a special school will only be arranged by the 0-25 SEN Team.

Your preferences can be for a state-funded mainstream school, a support centre in a mainstream school or a special school.

You will want to consider carefully the views of your child’s current school or setting and other professionals who work with your child. These should have been discussed at the Annual Review Meeting. The Admissions Team will pass your preference details to the 0-25 Team, so it is very important that you apply on time.

The 0-25 Team will write to you by 15 February to tell you which school will be named on your child’s plan.

If this isn’t the school you wanted you will have the right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).

Our advice is always to discuss your wishes with the 0-25 SEN Team if your child has an EHCP or is likely to have one issued.

Applications from overseas

Parents can apply from overseas ahead of their child moving to England.

These applications are considered in the same way as all other applications, without reference to nationality or immigration status. An admission authority may not refuse admission on these grounds or require a child to leave the school on these grounds.

This does not mean that there is necessarily an entitlement to access state-funded education. A school should refer any queries about a child’s entitlement to access state-funded education to the Home Office.

Parents should assure themselves that the child would have an entitlement to access a school place before they make an application.

For further information, see our guidance on education for overseas children.

Help with school meals

If you receive the following benefits, your child is eligible for free school meals:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income-based and Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) on an equal basis
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (IBJSA) Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (IRESA)
  • Child Tax Credit without Working Tax Credit (WTC) with an annual taxable income (as assessed by HMRC) of less than £16,190
  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods).
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (for a further 4 weeks after no longer qualifying for WTC.
  • Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

You can get more individual advice by calling the Education Helpline on 0345 155 1019.

School uniform

Many schools feel that a uniform plays a valuable role in setting the tone of a school and these uniforms should be widely available rather than from a sole supplier.

Schools shouldn’t require children to wear uniforms to raise additional funds and they should make discrete arrangements so that no family feels unable to apply for admission on account of the cost of the uniform.

This applies equally to sports kits and any other equipment which is required by pupils.

Devon doesn’t provide a uniform grant. In cases of exceptional hardship, parents may seek advice from the Education Welfare Service.

Private fostering arrangements

This is when a child under 16 years (or 18 if they have a disability) is looked after for 28 days or more by someone who is not a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility. Close relatives include parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

It isn’t private fostering if the arrangement was made by Devon County Council or if the person looking after the child is an approved foster carer.

The child’s parent(s), private foster carer and anyone else involved in the arrangement are legally required to tell us in writing, immediately, if the arrangement has already started or is due to begin within six weeks.

We will work in partnership with the child, parents and private foster carer to make sure that the best possible arrangements are in place. This includes advice on cultural, religious and linguistic needs as well as support for the child, parents and private foster carer.

You can contact the Private Fostering Team by email mashsecure@devon.gcsx.gov.uk, visit fosteringindevon.org or call 0345 155 1013.

Insurance

We are insured against our legal liability for any injury, loss or damage caused to pupils as a result of negligence on our part or that of our employees.

Pupils attending maintained schools are not insured for personal accident benefits while on education premises or on work experience schemes. However, insurance cover is provided for pupils taking part in organised school trips and visits. We expect pupils to accept responsibility for their personal possessions, including money.

Parents may consider taking out insurance themselves to cover any risks. Further information is available from schools – particularly academies that are not maintained by Devon.

Home school agreements

These agreements can promote greater involvement by parents in children’s education. They can set out what is expected of and for children and families at a school.

After a place has been offered, the school may ask parents to sign an agreement. Admission is not conditional on an agreement being signed.

Religion and belief

All schools are required to provide religious education that fulfils the requirements of a locally agreed syllabus.

There is no requirement for a child or parent to be of any particular faith to attend a state-funded school; the school may prioritise admission on faith grounds but any applicant must be admitted if there is a vacancy.

Contribution to school funds and trips

There is no charge or cost related to the admission of a child to a school.

Many schools operate a school fund to which they ask parents to contribute. Such donations are entirely voluntary and cannot form a condition for admission.

The money collected in this way is used to pay for activities or to buy uniform and equipment.

Contacts and sources of advice

Neighbouring local authorities

If your child lives in Devon, you may want to make a preference for a school in another area as well as, or instead of, a Devon school. If this is the case, you must still apply to Devon.

When we receive your application we will contact the neighbouring local authority (LA) to tell them about the school(s) in their area for which you have expressed a preference. They will consider your application alongside the others that they receive. They will then let us know their decision.

If your child lives outside the Devon County Council area and you would like a place in a Devon school, you must complete the application form for your child’s ‘home’ LA. They will tell us and we will tell them whether a place is available. That LA will write to tell you about the school place which is offered for your child, even if it is a school in our area.

Contact details

Cornwall
0300 1234 101
schooladmissions@cornwall.gov.uk
www.cornwall.gov.uk/admissions

Dorset
01305 221060
admissions@dorsetcc.gov.uk
www.dorsetforyou.com/schooladmissions

Plymouth
01752 307469
school.admissions@plymouth.gov.uk
www.plymouth.gov.uk/schooladmissions

Somerset
0845 456 4038
schooladmissions@somerset.gov.uk
www.somerset.gov.uk/admissions

Torbay
01803 208908
pupil.services@torbay.gov.uk
www.torbay.gov.uk/schooladmissions

Admissions to any school in another LA may require the completion of a SIF. Please contact the school or the relevant LA for further information.

School Admissions Code

School admissions policies and processes must be compliant with the statutory requirements of the School Admissions Code 2021 and the School Admissions Appeals Code 2012.

The Department for Education (DfE)

The Department for Education is responsible for education and children’s services in England.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

The Education and Skills Funding Agency is an executive agency of the DfE, managing funding to support all state-provided education. The ESFA has a role in dealing with complaints about academies.

Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS)

The Children’s Education Advisory Service is a service organisation funded by the Ministry of Defence. It was established to provide information and support to service families and eligible MOD civilians on all aspects of the education of their children in the UK and overseas.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA)

A local authority, parent or other interested party can object against an admissions policy believed to be unfair, breaching the Admissions Code or other relevant legislation. Decisions are binding.

More information at the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA).

The Diocesan Boards of Education

The Diocesan Boards of Education provide advisory support for schools with a recognised religious character for Devon schools:

The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)

This is a charity which offers information about state education in England for parents of school-age children. Information booklets can be ordered from the ACE website. You can call free on 0808 800 5793, or text AskACE on 68808.

Devon Information Advice and Support (DiAS)

This is a local, impartial, free and confidential service for parents and carers, children and young people 0-25 years old regarding special educational needs (SEN) and disability.

If you or your child receive SEN support, have a Statement of SEN or an EHCP, they can provide you with information, advice and support about admissions and transition between schools.

They can help you to understand your options, talk to you about the admissions process, help you to find the right person to talk to and support you with admission appeals.

Contact DiAS

Advice is also available from Contact a Family – SEN National Advice Service on 0808 808 3555 and from Coram Children’s Legal Centre – Family, Child and Education Legal Advice Line on 08088 020 008.

Glossary and definitions

Schools may use their own definitions for terms used in their admissions policies. Where one of these schools doesn’t define its terms, the Devon definitions will be the default definition.

Academy – a state-funded school independent of LA control. It must take part in normal round coordinated admissions.

All-through school – a school that admits children to primary and secondary year groups. Children in year 6 automatically have a place in year 7 though they can apply for another secondary school.

Catchment area – see designated area.

Children in care – see looked after children.

Children formerly looked after or formerly in care – children who were looked after by or provided with accommodation by Devon County Council or any other local authority but were then immediately adopted or made the subject of a child arrangements order or made the subject of a special child arrangements order. For admissions purposes, they are considered as if they were still in care.

Community schools – state schools in England that are wholly owned and maintained by the LA which is the admission authority with responsibility for deciding arrangements for admission.

Designated area – also known as a catchment area. The geographical area served by a school. Children living in a school’s designated area will have a higher priority for a place. Residence ‘in-area’ does not guarantee admission. There is an additional entitlement in Devon to free transport where a child attends a school that is designated for the home address (minimum distances apply).

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) – a document that acknowledges and makes provision for a child’s special educational needs. A child with an EHCP naming a school must be admitted.

Foundation schools – maintained by the LA but where the governing body is responsible for admission and appeal arrangements.

Free schools – academies governed by non-profit charitable trusts.

Home address – We will not accept more than one address as the child’s home address.

Where we ask for evidence of the address from which a child would attend school, this would often be written confirmation of a house purchase or a formal tenancy agreement.

We recognise that some families may be unable to provide this – for example, where a house move is at very short notice or where a family is escaping domestic violence.

If you cannot provide this evidence, please contact us. We do not intend to penalise families where there is a genuine reason why the usual evidence cannot be provided.

The terms of a child arrangements order may clarify the home address. Where necessary to determine which address to recognise and in the absence of a child arrangements order, the LA will consider the home address to be with the parent with primary day-to-day care and control of the child.

Evidence may be requested to show the address to which any Child Benefit is paid and at which the child is registered with a medical GP. Any other evidence provided by parents will also be considered in reaching a decision on the home address for admissions purposes.

Infant class size – classes are limited to 30 children with a single teacher in reception, year 1 and year 2. Where there is an appeal, the panel can only consider the information that was known at the time the original application was made, not new information or changes in circumstance.

In-year admissions – these take place after a year group has begun at a school – during years reception to year 6 in a primary, years 3 to 6 in a junior school, reception to year 2 in an infant school, years 7 to 11 in a secondary school or years 10 to 11 in a studio school or UTC. Oversubscription criteria for in-year admissions will be the same as at the normal round transfer except that there will be no reference to attendance at a linked pre-school.

LA – local authority, for example, Devon County Council.

Linked schools – also known as feeder or contributory schools. These are schools with particular links with a secondary school for transition and the curriculum. Brings priority, but not a guarantee, for admission to the secondary school.

Looked after children – cared for or looked after by or provided with accommodation by Devon County Council or any other local authority. Also known as children in care.

Oversubscription criteria – the rules used to prioritise applications and decide who should be offered a place when there are more applications than places. They are not used where a school has fewer applications than there are places available.

PAN – the Published Admission Number. The minimum number of children to be admitted to a school at the normal round of admissions where there are sufficient applications.

Parents – A parent is any person who has parental responsibility of care for the child. When we say parent, we also mean carer or guardian.

Preference – The school named in an admissions application. When we say ‘expressing a preference’ we mean making an application that names a school.

Sibling – This will be a full, adopted half or stepbrother or sister and will include a full, adopted half or stepbrother or sister living at a different address. Foster children will count as a brother or sister to those living within the foster household or where appropriate, the natural parental home address.

Statement of SEN – special educational needs, sometimes requiring a Statement or EHCP for a child. A child with a Statement of SEN which names a school must be admitted to that school.

Supplementary Information Form (SIF) – All parents who list their preferred schools on an LA common application form are regarded as having made valid applications. An additional form may also allow applicants to be considered under faith criteria for faith schools, where there is an exceptional need to attend the school, as a consequence of a parent being a member of staff at the school, for boarding schools and for selective schools. In all cases, a common application form must be completed. It is a parent’s responsibility to check whether a SIF is required and to provide evidence if that is necessary.

Voluntary aided schools – these schools have a religious ethos. The governing body is responsible for admission and appeal arrangements. These schools usually prioritise children of their faith.

Voluntary controlled schools – these are schools in England that are maintained by the local authority with a Foundation (generally religious) that appoints some of the governing body. The LA is the admissions authority.

Contact details for Devon Admissions

The Education Helpline

For help and support please call 0345 155 1019.

Calls to all numbers starting 0345 will be charged at no more than the national rate for 01 or 02 numbers and will count towards inclusive minutes in a mobile phone contract. The lines are open from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday. Our team of advisers are able to answer most enquiries. If not you will be put into contact with officers in the School Admissions Team.

School Admissions Service

Some enquiries will be referred to officers with knowledge of the admissions process for normal round primary school admissions, normal round secondary school admissions or in-year school admissions. The postal address is Room L60, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter EX2 4QG.

Our email address is admissions@devon.gov.uk for all normal round and in-year admissions to primary and secondary phase schools. Officers are organised into geographical areas so it can be helpful to indicate the area of Devon in the subject line of an email.

If you write to the School Admissions Service, please include your child’s full name and date of birth. Wherever possible, we will write back to you by email.

Timeline for the primary normal round

November 2021 – admissions information letters sent to parents of Devon-resident year 6 children (born between September 2008 and August 2009 and known to the LA).

15 Novemberonline facility open for primary intake applications and applications for transfer to junior schools.

15 January 2022national closing date for online applications at midnight. Closing date for timely paper forms and SIFs to be submitted

By 1 February – details of applications for schools in other LA areas to be sent to those LAs. Details of applications for own admission authority schools in Devon to be sent to those schools.

18 February – Devon’s own admission authority schools to return ranked lists of applications. The Devon processing date for applications.

By 18 March – no further applications will be included in the first round of allocations. Devon will match the ranked lists of applicants for all schools and allocate places.

By 25 March – Devon will inform other LAs of offers to be made to applicants in their areas.

By 1 April – Devon will inform schools of the children to be offered places on their behalf.

19 Aprilnational allocation day – you will receive an email confirming your child’s allocated school if you applied online; otherwise or if we are unable to offer your first preference, your child’s allocation letter will be posted to you by second class post.

23 May – your child’s allocation will be deemed to have been accepted by you if you have not informed the school or the LA in writing of alternative arrangements. Date by which parents should request appeal forms. Processing date for second round applications. No further applications will be included in the second round of applications. Closing date for parents to submit appeals to ensure inclusion in main round of appeals.

27 May – second round of allocations to be made by the LA. Further allocations will be made as new applications are received and as new vacancies arise.

By 29 July – appeals heard by the Independent Appeals Panel and otherwise for those

1 September – date from which requests for school places will be considered under In-Year admissions arrangements.

September – autumn term begins and children admitted to school.

Timeline for secondary normal round

End of August 2021 – admissions information letters sent to parents of Devon-resident year 6 children (born between September 2009 and August 2010 and known to the LA).

September and October, 1 September – open days and open evenings at secondary schools, studio schools and UTCs.Online facility open for secondary transfer applications and applications for transfer from secondary school to studio schools and UTCs. Closing date for timely registration forms for Colyton Grammar School and for selective schools in Torbay. Selection testing for Torbay schools.

19 September – selection testing for Colyton Grammar School. Selection testing for Plymouth schools.

31 Octobernational closing date for online applications at midnight. Closing date for timely paper forms and SIFs to be submitted for secondary transfer and transfer to studio schools and UTCs.

19 November – details of applications for schools in other LA areas to be sent to those LAs. Details of applications for own admission authority schools in Devon to be sent to those schools.

Spring term – closing date for timely applications to many sixth forms.

7 January 2022 – Devon’s own admission authority schools to return ranked lists of applications.

4 February – the Devon processing date for applications. No further applications will be included in the first round of allocations. Devon will match the ranked lists of applicants for all schools and allocate places.

By 11 February – Devon will inform other LAs of offers to be made to applicants in their areas.

By 18 February – Devon will inform schools of the children to be offered places on their behalf.

1 March – national allocation day – you will receive an email confirming your child’s allocated school if you applied online; otherwise or if we are unable to offer your first preference, your child’s allocation letter will be posted to you by second class post.

15 March – your child’s allocation will be deemed to have been accepted by you if you have not informed the school or the LA in writing of alternative arrangements. Date by which parents should request appeal forms. Processing date for second round applications. No further applications will be included in the second round of applications.

31 March – closing date for parents to submit appeals to ensure inclusion in main round of appeals.

Summer term – decisions sent by many sixth forms.

8 April – second round of allocations to be made by the LA. Further allocations will be made as new applications are received and as new vacancies arise.

May and June – appeals heard by the Independent Appeals Panel and otherwise for those schools making their own arrangements or those schools located in other LA areas.

June and July – induction day at your child’s allocated school, as advised by them. GCSE results – required for those sixth form applicants whose offers are conditional on results.

1 September – date from which requests for school places will be considered under in-year admissions arrangements.

September – autumn term begins and children admitted to school.

Location of secondary schools

Please read the advice and guidance on the designated areas or catchment areas here.