Making an application
When you apply, you can list up to 4 schools in order of preference (we sometimes call this your "ranked" 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 if you're not a European Economic Area citizen.
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.
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 us your views 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
What we do with your data
In addition to processing your application for a school place, under data legislation we may use your application information to:
- contact you about related admissions and transport issues
- co-operate with our partners in health and youth justice to improve the wellbeing of children in Hertfordshire area as required by the Children Act 2004. Information shared between partner organisations is proportionate and only given when it is necessary to help those partner organisation services
- provide statistical data to other organisations (for example, Department for Education, academic institutions or independent researchers with a legitimate need for information for their research) or for our internal research, statistical analysis or statistical surveys only
- consider the effectiveness of alternative admission arrangements to improve service.
All admissions application data is stored securely and maintained in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Hertfordshire online systems that are publicly available for entry of personal application data are regularly independently tested to assess risk of penetration and to guard against unauthorised entry for access to personal or any other data. This includes ensuring that the username and password access meets industry level 3
If applicants apply using the paper form, we'll enter their details into the system. We won't share personal data from admissions and transport applications with anyone except schools and other admissions authorities that require the data in order to process applications for schools within their own authority.
Academies and voluntary aided or foundation schools – extra information needed
Most academies and voluntary aided or foundation schools have their own rules.
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
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 a statement of special educational needs or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan should apply for a school place in the usual way.
Children with a statement or 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 SEN officer 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 SEN officer.
If your child is already at an infant or first school, your child’s SEN officer will have considered all the information received with your child’s statutory assessment or most recent annual review. You will have already received a final statement or EHC plan based on that information.
When the statement or EHC plan was issued, you'll have had an opportunity to tell your SEN officer of your preferred school for September.
At the start of the autumn term your SEN officer will have sent you an amendment notice. This will show you the changes that need to be made to your child’s statement or EHC plan before your child starts or moves school.
During the autumn term, your SEN officer will consult with your preferred school and send them a copy of your child’s EHC plan or statement. The headteacher has 15 days to respond.
Following this, your SEN officer will finalise your child’s statement or EHC plan and name a school in section 1 of the EHC plan or part 4 of the statement.
You should get this document before the end of the autumn term, in advance of the legal deadline which is 15 February in the year your child transfers school.
If you have any questions about this, please contact your child’s SEN officer.
Hertfordshire's Local Offer
Our "local offer" shows the services, groups and information available for parents and carers of children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
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 should have their own policies. Contact the school direct. Find school contact details.