Guide to starting school or moving up to junior school

Last updated: 13 September 2023

Understanding the terms we use

These are some of the terms we use for the admission rules and policies for Community and Voluntary -Controlled schools. Many Academy, Foundation, Free and Voluntary-Aided schools use the same terms as us.


The person who is the child’s ‘parent’ should make the application:

A parent is defined in law (the Education Act 1996) as either:

  • a parent is defined in law (the Education Act 1996) as ‘Any person who has ‘parental responsibility’ (defined in Children’s Act 1989) for the child or young person’


  • any person who has care of the child or young person

If two parents with parental responsibility live at different addresses the parent to whom the Child Benefit is paid should make the application with the full knowledge and consent of the non-resident parent.

If Child Benefit is not received, then the parent living at the address at which the child is registered with a doctor should make the application, or failing that, then the parent with whom the child spends the greater proportion of the school week (from Sunday evening to Thursday evening).

We may ask for evidence if circumstances have changed in the past 18 months. Read the information about shared or joint residence that we cover later.

Normal home address

This is your child’s home address: it is where you and your child live together unless you can show that they live elsewhere with someone with legal care and control of your child. For admissions purposes, this must be a residential property that is your child’s only or main residence.

It must also be a property that can be permanently occupied 52 weeks of the year without any restrictions on occupation and not subjected to any planning or contractual restrictions on the duration of occupancy. It must be your child’s only or main residence that is owned, leased or rented by the child’s parent(s) or person with legal care and control of the child.

It cannot be an address at which your child may sometimes stay or sleep due to your domestic arrangements.

A child’s Normal Home Address is where he or she spends most of the week, unless it is accommodation at a boarding school.

In deciding your Normal Home Address we would not usually accept an address if:

  • you or your family has a second home elsewhere as a main residence. We expect that you have sold, or leased through an agency, your previous property or that a lease agreement on a property you previously rented has expired and that you have no other residence.
  • only part of a family has moved out of the Normal Home Address unless this was part of a divorce or permanent separation arrangement. If this is the case we will ask for evidence.
  • 2 or more families claim to be living together in a property that is not suitable for the number of adults and children present and for which there is no formal record of this arrangement.
  • a child moves to a home other than with their parent, unless this is part of a formal fostering or care arrangement. We may check this information.
  • the address is that of a holiday home. A family living at a known holiday home address will be asked to provide leasing evidence and if there is a limitation on the tenancy then it will not be accepted.

We can refuse to accept where you say your child lives if we have any doubts, in which case we will continue to ask for evidence to show that you and your family actually live where you say you live. We may ask our legal team to investigate or ask that you provide legal confirmation of your address. We may check the evidence you have provided with other agencies including your child’s current school.

If we offer a place at a school and then discover that the offer was made on the basis of fraudulent or misleading information (for example, a false claim to living in a catchment area), and this denied a place to another child, the offer of that place will be withdrawn by the admission authority for the school. This has happened in previous years.

Make sure you tell us if you move house after you have made your application.

Where Service families or families of other Crown Servants are posted to the area, we will allocate school places in advance of the move if an official government letter declaring the relocation date and intended address is provided.

Shared or joint residence

To avoid doubt, where a child lives with parents or carers (with or without parental responsibility) with shared responsibility whether for part of a week, or month, the address where the child lives for admission purposes will be the address at which we are satisfied the child spends most of the school week.

We will take into account the address at which the child spends the greater proportion of the school week from Sunday evening to Thursday evening.

Where there is an equal split or there is any doubt about residence, we will make a judgment about which address to use for allocation purposes. In making this judgment we will take into account the following:

  • any legal documentation confirming residence
  • the pattern of the residence
  • the period over which the current arrangement has been in place
  • confirmation from the previous/current primary or nursery school of the contact details and home address provided to them by the parents
  • which parent is in receipt of Child Benefit
  • where the child is registered with a GP
  • any other evidence the parents may supply to confirm the situation.

We may ask for further evidence.

The person completing the application form must ensure that they have parental responsibility for the child in question. They must also ensure that the application has the agreement of all people with parental responsibility.

Find out more about parents who have shared or joint residence.

Looked after child

For admission purposes, a ‘looked after child’ is a child who either:

A child in the care of a local authority or who is being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services functions. This covers accommodated children and those who are in care under a Care Order or Interim Care Order. This can include living with family or friends, in foster care, in a children’s home, residential school, special school or in supported lodgings.


A child who was previously looked after and immediately after being looked after became the subject of an adoption, child arrangements order or special guardianship order.

A Child Arrangements Order is an order setting the arrangements to be made as to the person with whom the child is to live under the Children and Families Act 2014.

A Special Guardianship Order appoints a child’s special guardian(s) under Section 14A of the Children’s Act 1989.

This may also include children who appear to have been in state care outside of England and ceased to be in state care as a result of being adopted. A child is regarded as having been in state care in a place outside of England if they were accommodated by a public authority, a religious organisation or any other provider of care whose sole purpose is to benefit society.

For applications under either of these rules, provide a letter from your child’s social worker or other documentary evidence confirming this situation.


A sibling is a brother or sister. For admission purposes, we mean, one of two (or more) individuals who have one or more parent in common or any other child (including an adopted or fostered child) who lives at the same address and for whom the parent also has parental responsibility, or in the case of a fostered child, delegated authority

We will only consider a pupil in a primary school as a sibling if they are at the school, or a linked school in Reception (Foundation 2) to Year 5 at the time the allocations are made (March 2024), or who have already been offered a place to start in the current academic year at the school or a ‘linked primary’ school. The child must also be expected to still be at the school or linked school at the time the younger child would start (September 2024).

Some schools also consider siblings at a linked school. You'll need to tell us on your application if you have another child already at one of your preferred schools or at a school 'linked' to your preferred schools.

When we're allocating places to a class which is covered by the infant class size legislation, if we have one place left and the next child on the list is a twin, triplet or other multiple birth group then both twins (or all the siblings in the case of multiple births) even if this goes above the admission number for the school.

Whilst that child is in the class they will be an excepted pupil under the Schools Admissions (Infant Class Size) (England) Regulations 2012, which permit Key Stage 1 classes to exceed 30 following the admission of a twin triplet or other multiple birth group for as long as necessary until a child leaves the class at which point the class will remain at the lower figure.

For admission to a class where infant class size legislation does not apply both twins (or all the siblings in the case of multiple births) would be admitted.

Exceptional medical or social applications

If you would like your application for your highest preference school to be considered under this rule, you must have a very strong reason for your child attending this particular school.

We would not normally expect a parent to apply under this rule for more than one school.

Not all schools have this rule so make sure you check their admission rules before applying.

Your supporting evidence should be from an independent professional person (this might be a Doctor, Health Visitor or Education Welfare Officer, for example) who knows about your situation and supports your case. It must clearly show why this is the only school that can meet your child’s needs and what difficulties there would be if your child went to a different school.

View more about applying under the exceptional medical or social needs rule.

We'll not collect information for you.

Submit evidence

You should use our online form to submit evidence that you would like your child’s application considered under this rule

We'll require:

  • the parent's details
  • the child's details
  • supporting evidence from an independent professional person

You'll need to create an online account to submit your evidence if you do not already have one. Both the application and evidence must be submitted by the deadline of 15 January.

Submit evidence now

If you are applying under this rule after 15 January 2024, submit your evidence by our later allocation rounds deadlines. We would only expect later applications under this rule if you are submitting a brand new application, or where circumstances have changed/new evidence has come to light since your original application was made.

We will not reconsider an application under this rule if relevant information was known at the time of the original application, but you chose not to share it with us.

A panel comprising of education experts will decide which children can be considered under this rule before we make each round of allocations.

In order to agree an application under this rule, the panel will need to see evidence to confirm the following three statements to be true:

  1. The parent has clearly explained why this school above any other would be the most appropriate for their child to attend.
  2. The parent has provided independent evidence that clearly supports their claim that this school would be the most suitable for their child.
  3. There is no other school that could reasonably be expected to meet the child’s needs.

Should you be applying for a school in another area that has a similar rule send your evidence to us and we will forward it to the Local Authority for that school.

Child of a member of staff

To apply under this rule, you (the parent) need to:

  • have been employed at the school for two or more years at the time at which the application for admission to the school is made


  • have been recruited to fill a vacant post for which there is a demonstrable skill shortage

This is a post which the school has had difficulty in filling. This might be where the school has taken part in a recruitment drive to fill the post either across the country or worldwide and/or where the post was not filled at the first attempt.

'School staff' includes:

  • teaching staff on a permanent or fixed term contract exceeding 11 months in duration
  • all other staff on permanent or fixed term contracts exceeding 11 months in duration for posts of in excess of 15 hours per week

Catchment areas

Most, but not all, Buckinghamshire primary schools have a catchment area, which is a geographical area that can give priority for admission to children who live there. Whilst living in a catchment area can help your child’s chances of being offered a place, there is no guarantee that this will always be possible.

You can work out which catchment areas you live in and which schools are near to you by using the Find my child a school place service.

Home to school distance

We use straight line distance for admission purposes. This is the distance from your child’s normal home address, as set out by Ordnance Survey, to the nearest open school gate available for pupils to use. We use a computerised system to measure straight line distance.

The point we measure to at your child’s address is determined by the Ordnance Survey AddressBase which is an Ordnance Survey data product that provides a National Grid coordinate and a unique reference for each postal address in Great Britain that is on the Royal Mail’s Post Office Address File.

This is different to the shortest walking route, which is used for transport purposes. View more information in the School Transport Policy & Guidance.

Make sure you look at each schools admission rules to see in which situations distance from home to school is used.

Danesfield School and St Paul’s CE Combined School both use routed distance.

Infant class size

By law, no infant aged pupil should be taught in a class where there are more than 30 pupils for each school teacher. An infant class is one where most children will be five, six or seven during the academic year.

This means that we'll usually refuse to admit more than 30 children for each qualified teacher.

Supplementary Information Forms (SIFs)

Some schools ask you to fill in a supplementary form to help them gather extra information about your child. This will help them decide who can be offered a place. Most of the Roman Catholic schools in Buckinghamshire use the same Supplementary Form.

You can use our online checker to see which schools have a supplementary form.

Once completed, these forms should be sent directly to the school (not the Admissions Team). The deadline for you to return your form to the school is 15 January 2024.

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Many children with special educational needs go to a local school and are provided with extra support.

There are also special schools which support children with particular needs. If your child has, or you expect them to have, an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP), you should contact:

Special Educational Needs Team
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 01296 382 269

Most parents of children with an EHCP or Statement will know about their child’s primary school place before April 2024.

School Admissions Code and scheme

The School Admissions Code is provided by the Department for Education (DfE) to guide admission authorities when dealing with school admission. For more information, visit the Department for Education website.

The Education Act 2002 also requires all LAs to have a ‘scheme’ to show the arrangements for admission to primary schools in their area.

The scheme is in place to make sure that every parent of a child living in the local authority area who has applied for a school place in the ‘normal admission round’ receives the offer of one school place. You can read our scheme on our policies page.

It covers how we allocate school places; we will put your child on the lists for the schools you have on your application. If your preferred school, or schools, has more applications than there are places available, then whether we can offer a place will depend on where on the school’s rules your child is ranked and how many other children had higher priority for the places available. We use the admission rules to put children into order and then offer the number of places we have available.

Full details of all the Buckinghamshire primary schools are available in our school directory. You can use our online application to find schools near you and check if your child is eligible for free school transport.

Admission rules for schools in other areas

If you're interested in a school located in another local authority area, you should contact the local authority or school for more information about their admission rules.

If you want to apply for a Year 5 place in central Bedfordshire, you'll not be able to do this online, you need to complete a paper application form.

Contact the admissions team to request a paper application.