Guide to starting school or moving up to junior school

Last updated: 13 September 2023

Admission rules

Often, there will be more applicants for a school than there are places available. Where this is the case, we use admission rules to determine which children should be offered places.

Each school’s admission rules are set out in their Admissions Policy, and you will be able to download a copy from each school’s website.

Common admission rules may include, for example: children with a sibling attending the school; children resident in the school’s catchment area; children with exceptional medical or social needs; children living closest to the school.

For each of the schools you would like to include in your application (including any schools outside of Buckinghamshire), you must read their admission rules carefully so you know how your child’s application will be treated.

We use the information you provide in your child’s application (and supplementary form if the school you're applying for wanted you to fill one in) to work out which admission rule is correct for your child.

We put all children applying for a particular school in an ordered list, with those children who best meet the admission rules in highest priority. We then use this list to work out which children should receive an offer.


Below are the admission rules for all Buckinghamshire community and voluntary controlled schools, but other schools such as academies, free-schools, foundation schools and voluntary-aided schools often have different rules.

Once places have been allocated to children with an Educational Health Care Plan are admitted the remaining places will be allocated in the following order:

Rule 1

Looked after and previously looked after children.

Rule 2

Children who have exceptional medical or social needs, which can only be met at that school, supported by written evidence from an appropriate professional person.

Rule 3

Children of staff where either:

  • the member of staff has been employed at the school for two or more years at the time at which the application for admission to the school is made
  • the member of staff is recruited to fill a vacant post for which there is a demonstrable skill shortage

Rule 4

Children attending a primary school linked to the school named in the list of ‘linked primary’ schools at the time the allocations are made (March 2023). This rule does not apply to those starting school in Reception.

Rule 5

Children living within the catchment area of the school.

Rule 6

For the main point of entry: siblings of children who are attending the school or a ‘linked primary’ school in Year R to Year 5 at the time the allocations are made (March 2024), and are expected to be on the school roll or linked school roll at the time of the proposed admission, or who have already been offered a place to start in the current academic year at the school or a ‘linked primary’ school.

Rule 7

For immediate in year admission after the normal point of entry: Siblings of children who are in Year R to Year 6 at the time of admission to the school.

Rule 8

Once the above rules have been applied, then any further places will be offered in distance order; using the distance between the family’s Normal Home Address and the school’s nearest entrance gate offering the closest first. We use straight line distance.

Rule 9

Where a school can take some, but not all, of the children who qualify under one of these rules, we will give priority to children by taking account of the next rule (or rules) in the numbered list to decide who has priority for places.

For example, places are offered to catchment siblings (Rule 5 & 6) before children living in the catchment area without siblings (Rule 5). In each case, distance is used to prioritise which children should be offered places.

Rule 10

If it is still not possible to decide between two applicants who are equidistant then an independently scrutinised random allocation will be made to allocate the final place.

Information about how places have been allocated at Buckinghamshire primary schools in previous years, including details of the rules those places were offered under, can be found on our policy pages as well as by using our ‘Find my child a school place’ service.