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Hertfordshire County Council

Making an application

When you apply, you can list up to 4 schools in order of preference (we call this "ranking" your schools).

Research schools to help you make the right school preferences for your child.

This includes looking at a school's admission rules (how they work out who will be offered a place).


It's also important to think about how your child gets to school. Very few children can get free home to school transport.

Make sure your child is entitled to a place in a state school before you apply. Check your visa status

How the system works

School admissions across the country

  • School admissions are coordinated by local authorities to ensure that children across the country are offered a single school place on the same day. This system is fairer, with more parents being offered one of their preferred schools earlier.
  • All applications are considered at the same time. Admission rules are applied equally, regardless of how you ordered the schools on your form.
  • We will only use your order of preference (rank) if it's possible to offer your child a place at more than one of your preferred schools. If this is the case, we'll offer you a place at the highest ranked school possible.
  • The allocation process is automated for all community and voluntary controlled schools. Officers aren't involved and don't influence decisions. The only exceptions are when deciding whether a child qualifies for a place under Rule 2 and when allocating a school not ranked on your application form.

How you apply

You list the schools you want to apply for on 1 form, ordered by preference. You can put down schools in and outside of Hertfordshire, if you're a Hertfordshire resident.

If you only apply to 1 school, you'll only be considered for that school.

Schools won't know the order you rank them or which other schools you've applied for. If you appeal, the appeals panel will know because your application form and allocation letter will usually form part of the paperwork prepared for the appeal process.

If your child is not offered a place at any of your preferred schools and you live in Hertfordshire, you'll usually be allocated a place at the nearest suitable school to your home address with places still available. This might not be a school in Hertfordshire and could be a school or academy responsible for its own admissions.

If your child is currently on roll at a school that they can continue at for September (for example, if your child is applying for a junior or middle school place but is attending a primary school), an alternative school place will not be offered.

Infant class size

It's against the law for infant classes (Reception to Year 2) to be taught in a class with more than 30 pupils. This is taken into account when allocating school places and at appeals.

Linked infant and junior schools

Most junior schools prioritise applications from pupils already attending their “linked” infant school. Check the rules for junior schools.

School place planning

You can email about the provision of school places in your local area at the time of your application.

This feedback is given to our county councillors who agree each year how many school places are provided in each area.

School place planning – find out more

New schools and additional places

Academies and voluntary aided or foundation schools – extra information needed

Most academies and voluntary aided or foundation schools have their own rules to prioritise applications.

Schools get a list of every application for their school, but they don't see your order of preference.

They apply their own admission rules to applications and allocate places.

They may also ask for additional information on an extra form (sometimes called a Supplementary Information Form).


Children attending a nursery class

Attendance at a school’s nursery class does not guarantee a place in the Reception class of a school.

You need to apply for a Reception place, even if your child has a place at the nursery class.

Every year some children attending a nursery class don't get a place in the school’s Reception class. This is because we receive more applications for Reception places than for nursery places.

Schools must ensure their admission arrangements don't disadvantage families who couldn't take up a nursery place at the school, for example, those who moved to an area after nursery places were offered.

Applying for schools outside Hertfordshire

If you live in Hertfordshire, you apply to us. Even if you're applying for a school outside of the county.

If you live outside Hertfordshire, you must apply to your own council. That's even if you're applying for Hertfordshire schools.

Contact details for neighbouring councils

Children with special educational needs

Mainstream schools

All schools in Hertfordshire can cater for children with a wide range of needs, whether those needs are to do with learning, behaviour or a disability.

Children who have special educational needs but don't have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan should apply for a school place in the usual way.

Children with an EHC plan that names a specific school are allocated school places through a separate process.

You can apply as usual for a mainstream primary, junior or middle school place but your application will be handled by your EHC coordinator in the local special needs team.

You will not get an allocation letter and allocation information will not be available online.

If your child is starting school this year (a Reception place at an infant, first or primary school), discuss the process with your child’s named EHC coordinator.

If your child is already at an infant or first school, your child’s EHC coordinator will have considered all the information received with your child’s statutory assessment or most recent annual review. You will have already received an EHC plan based on that information.

When the EHC plan was issued, you'll have had an opportunity to tell your EHC coordinator of your preferred school for September.

At the start of the autumn term your EHC coordinator will have sent you an amendment notice. This will show you the changes that need to be made to your child’s EHC plan before your child starts or moves school.

During the autumn term, your EHC coordinator will consult with your preferred school and send them a copy of your child’s EHC plan. The headteacher has 15 days to respond.

Following this, your EHC coordinator will finalise your child’s EHC plan and name a school in section 1 of the EHC plan.

You should get this document before the end of the autumn term to meet the legal deadline of 15 February in the year your child transfers school.

If you have any questions about this, please contact your child’s EHC coordinator.


Special schools

If you think your child's needs would be better met in a special school, you can find out how to request a special school place on Hertfordshire's SEND Local Offer.

Our "local offer" is aimed at helping parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) find information and support services in Hertfordshire.

Twins and multiple birth children

If you have more than one child applying for a school at the same time, make a separate application for each of them.

The School Admission Code confirms that twins or multiple birth children are an exception to infant class size legislation. That means community and voluntary controlled schools will offer a place to twins or multiple birth children if one of them is offered the last place available and you've applied to the same school for the other child or children.

Foundation, voluntary aided schools and academies will have their own policies. Contact the school direct. Find school contact details.


Which address to use

Give your child's permanent address at the time you apply.

If you move after applying, you must send us proof of your new address.

Proof can be:

  • a solicitor's letter upon completion (exchange of contracts not accepted) confirming your completion date was on or before 1 February 2024
  • a signed rental agreement (for at least 12 months) showing the start of your tenancy on or before 1 February 2024. If it's not possible to provide a 12 month tenancy agreement because of the nature of the agreement, we'll request alternative proof of address and verify it with the Shared Anti-Fraud Service, as necessary.
  • evidence that you have relinquished ties with the address you originally declared on your application form.

You must also send us proof that you and your child live at the new address on or before 1 February 2024.

It's not enough to simply change your address on your online application.

We can't use your new address for allocation purposes if we receive your proof of completion date, tenancy start date or residency later than 1 February 2023.

Schools which are their own admitting authority may have different dates and requirements regarding change of address. Check the individual school's admission arrangements.


Fraudulent addresses or false information

We may ask for proof of your address at any time. We will withdraw the offer of a school place if a fraudulent address has been used.

Tell us if you move during the application process. It's not enough to just change your address on your online application.

We may also withdraw the offer of a school place if information is deliberately withheld at any point (before, during or after the application process).

Examples of cases that will be investigated and applications withdrawn

  • Renting a property close to a popular school but retaining another property.
  • Living with a relative but retaining another property.
  • Renting a property close to a popular school and moving home prior to school starting in September 2024.

If a school place was allocated to an older child using fraudulent information, we won't consider an application under the sibling rule for any children applying from that family.

Any offer that has been made on the basis of false or intentionally misleading information will be withdrawn, even if the place has already been accepted or the child has started at the allocated school.

Children living at more than one address

Use the address where the child lives most of the time, if they live at more than one address (for example, due to parents separating).

We'll only accept 1 application for each child.

If a child lives at 2 addresses equally, parents / carers should make a single joint application naming one address.

If the child's living arrangements change after you apply and they now spend the majority of the week living with a different parent at a different address, send us evidence of the child's new permanent address. We can't use it for allocation purposes otherwise.

This evidence must show that the child lives at the address and that the new arrangement is permanent.

If we receive more than 1 application with different details and parents don't agree, send us court documentation to evidence the address that should be used for admission allocation purposes. If two applications are received, with different addresses and/or different preferences, neither will be processed until the address issue is reconciled.

If we get a paper application and an online application for the same child, we'll process the online application.

Contact us if your child’s address has been disputed and you have court documentation to support their current address and / or living arrangements.

If at any point information is withheld, it may lead to the offer of a school place being withdrawn.

Applications from outside Hertfordshire (including other countries)

We will accept applications from within the UK and abroad from families of UK service personnel or other crown servants.

When you apply, include an official letter from either:

  • Ministry of Defence (MOD)
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
  • Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The letter must give your relocation date and a unit postal or quartering address in Hertfordshire. We'll then process your application from that address.

We’ll consider applications, and offer families a place in advance, if the application is accompanied by an official letter that declares a relocation date but does not provide a quartering or unit address because the family will be residing in private accommodation, as long as the parents provide evidence of the address and that the child will be living there. In these cases, if the family does not already have a permanent private address in Hertfordshire, the military base or alternative “work” address in Hertfordshire will be used for allocation purposes.

We'll also consider accepting applications from families who can show they intend to return and permanently live in Hertfordshire before the start of the new academic year (September).

If you're overseas and applying for a school in Hertfordshire, include evidence to show when the child will be a permanent resident in Hertfordshire. Until we have sufficient evidence, your overseas address will be used for allocation purposes.

If you own a property in Hertfordshire but you live elsewhere (for example, you're working abroad), we won't use your Hertfordshire address until we have proof that the child lives there permanently.

If you send evidence after the date for late applications, we can't take this into account before national allocation day.

A panel of our senior officers will make a decision and let you know within 6 weeks of the closing date (for on time applications).

Freedom of movement into the UK for European Economic Area and Swiss citizens ended at the end of 2020. EEA (Irish citizens aside) and Swiss national children entering the UK after the end of 2020 are now treated the same as other foreign nationals. This means they will no longer have the right to enter the country to access a state-funded school unless they fall within certain immigration categories. Find out more about visas and immigration and the EU Settlement Scheme for European Economic Area and Swiss citizens.

Children must either:

  • hold full British citizen passports (not British Dependent Territories or British Overseas passports)
  • have a UK passport describing them as a British citizen or British subject with the right of abode.

Children with no fixed address

Contact us if your family has no fixed address (for example, traveller families or those living on canal boats).


Late applications

You're much less likely to get your preferred school if you apply late.

You can't alter a late application made online. Email the Admissions team if you need to alter your late application.

We don't deal with applications received after the deadline until all on time applications have been considered.

If you have exceptional reasons for applying late, include the reasons and evidence when you apply. A panel will decide whether your application will be treated as late or on time – we'll let you know.

15 January 2024 – the deadline for applying on time.

1 February 2024 – the last date to submit a written explanation of why your application was late, for your application to be agreed as on time.

1 March 2024 – applications received after this date will not be offered a school place until the week commencing 17 June 2024.


When children start school (compulsory school age and deferral)

Your child can start in Reception class in the September following their 4th birthday. All infant, first and primary schools in Hertfordshire provide full time education for those offered a place in Reception class.


Compulsory school age

Legally, a child doesn't have to start school until the start of the term following their 5th birthday. If you'd prefer, your child could attend part time until they reach compulsory school age. 

You could also defer your child's start date until later in the same academic year or until the term in which they reach compulsory school age.

Summer born children (born between April and August) can only defer entry to Reception class until the beginning of the last term of the school year for which the offer was made. Contact your school if you want to take up a part time place, or defer your child's start date.


Children born in April to August (summer born)

If your child is summer born, you can apply for a place to start as usual in September 2024, after their 4th birthday. Or you may decide to delay your application and apply next year, to start in September 2025, after your child’s 5th birthday. View further information for delaying entry and applying to start in September 2025.

Children taught in a different year group

Generally, children should be educated in their normal age group (that is their correct chronological year). The curriculum should be amended as necessary to meet the needs of individual children.

If you think your child should be educated in a different year group, when you apply send us supporting evidence from relevant professionals and family stating why your child must be placed outside their normal age group.

For community and voluntary controlled schools, we'll decide whether your application is accepted on the basis of the evidence submitted. A panel looks at the information you send, including:

  • the views of parents and the headteacher
  • the child's social, academic and emotional development
  • whether the child has been educated out of their normal year group previously.

If your child is already being taught out of year group and you're applying to a new school, you should check the individual admission arrangements of the schools you wish to apply for, to check their policy for children out of year group.

There is no guarantee your application for your child to be taught in a different year group will be accepted.

If your application is not accepted, it does not mean that your child will be refused a school place. It just means your application will be processed for the usual year group.

There is also no right to an independent statutory appeal for a place in a specific year group at a school. How a school places pupils in classes is for the headteacher and individual school to decide.

Academies, voluntary aided and foundation schools are responsible for their own admissions and they make this decision for applications made to their school.


On allocation day

16 April 2024 
– find out which school you've been allocated.

We will email you (if you confirmed your email address).

Or login to the admissions system to check in the evening.


When you get your offer

1 May 2024 is the deadline to accept or decline your offer.

If you don’t accept or decline, we may offer your place to someone else. We’ll then offer you a place at the nearest school that still has places.

We advise you to accept the place offered so your child definitely has a school in September. This doesn’t affect your chances of getting a school you prefer later, either through the continuing interest process, or through a school admission appeal.

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