School place rules to change

The rules for parents applying for school places for their children are to be changed from February 2012.

What the changes mean:

Primary schools will have a National Offer Day like secondary schools already have. The offer day will be 16th April each year, from 2014.

Nick Gibb MP the Schools Minister said:

“A new National Offer Day for primary schools – as recommended by the Chief Schools Adjudicator – will introduce clarity and consistency in the system for hundreds of thousands of parents. Receiving offers on different days is confusing and stressful, especially for parents making cross-border applications to schools in neighbouring local authorities.”

In addition to this:

  • There will be flexibility in the infant class size limit – for twins and children of service personnel. This should end the crazy situation where one twin is offered a place and the other refused.
  • The length of time parents have to appeal against a school admission decision will increase from 10 days to 20.
  • Over-subscribed schools will be allowed to expand to accommodate more children. At the moment local authorities can refuse such expansion if there are under-subscribed schools in the area.
  • Councils won’t be allowed to operate “lotteries” to allocate places.
  • Children who have previously been in care but have been adopted will have greater priority than they do now.
  • Free schools and academies will be able to prioritise children from less well off backgrounds, by giving higher priority to children who qualify for free school meals.
  • Schools will be able to prioritise children of school staff.

The proposed amendments will be laid before parliament in December, subject to approval they will come into force on 1st Feb 2012.