Step 2 – before you apply
In the Rochdale borough, school reception places are available to each child from the September following their 4th birthday.
The law states that children must have a full-time suitable education from the beginning of the term after their 5th birthday.
We're only responsible for the admission criteria and procedures in community and voluntary controlled primary schools. We decide who's allocated a primary school place based on the number of applications and the admissions policy.
Unless otherwise stated in the school's admission policy, attending a school's nursery class does not give you priority for a place in the school's reception class.
Community and voluntary controlled primary schools admission policy
When a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan that names a specific school, the child will be allocated a place before any other places are allocated.
The remaining applications are considered in the following order of priority:
- Looked after and previously looked after children.
- Children with exceptional medical needs or exceptional welfare considerations that are directly relevant to the school concerned.
- Children with older siblings attending the school.
- Children with church affiliation, (only applies to voluntary controlled Church of England schools).
- Children who are eligible for the service premium.
- Proximity, where you live.
Admissions arrangements policy - contains more details of the criteria, how they're applied and which schools they apply to.
Voluntary aided, foundation and academy primary schools admission policy
Check the voluntary aided, foundation or academy school's admission policies; it's essential you read these as their admission policy may be different. Schools are required to publish their admission policy on their website and you can find a summarised version in our admissions guide for parents and carers.
Which local authority to apply to
If you live in Rochdale borough, you apply to us even if the school you're applying for is in another local authority.
If you live outside of the borough and want to apply for a Rochdale borough school, you should apply to your home local authority who will notify us of your application.
If you want to apply for an independent school, you'll need to apply to the school directly for a place, so you don't need to use our application form.
If you do not want your child to start school in September 2024, you can defer admission until the start of the term after your child’s 5th birthday.
Even if you wish to defer admission, you're still required to apply for a school place by 16 January 2024, to ensure you're allocated a school place for the 2024-2025 school year.
- Children who turn age 5 between 1 September 2024 and 31 December 2024: you can defer admission to the start of the spring term, January 2025 and a school place will be held open for you until then.
- Children who turn age 5 between 1 January 2025 and 31 March 2025: you can defer admission to the start of the summer term, April 2025 and a school place will be held open for you until then.
- Children who turn age 5 between 1 April 2025 and 31 August 2025: children born between April and July aren’t legally required to start school until the September (the start of the term following their 5th birthday). But a place that was offered can only be held until the beginning of the summer term (April 2025). If the place is not taken up, it will be withdrawn and you'll need to re-apply for it if you decide to defer entry.
On rare occasions, for example, due to a child’s seriously ill health, you might believe it to be in the child’s best interest to be placed outside of their normal age group. This means they would be admitted to reception class instead of year 1 when they become of compulsory school age.
These requests must be made by completing the form and submitted with relevant supporting evidence at the time of application. Requests will be considered by the school’s admission authority and a decision made on a case-by-case basis.
Address to use on your application
Please give the home address where the child and parent (or carer) normally lives. Not the address of a relative, childminder or parent the child does not normally live with.
We may need evidence such as bank statements, utility or council tax bills, or check the address against the electoral register and with benefits agencies if necessary.
If you apply using a false or intentionally misleading address and your child is offered a place, we'll withdraw the offer.
If your child lives with different parents or carers for part of the week:
- We'll accept either address if legal arrangements are in place to support these instances.
- If no legal arrangements exist, the home address where child benefit is paid will be used.
There should be only one application per child. If we receive more than one application, we'll only process one of them.
We'll send the offer letter to the child's main home address, but we'll try to send an additional letter if requested.
Disagreeing on schools
We're not able to process applications if there's a conflict between parents about which school their child should attend. Please contact us if this might be the case.
If we receive applications with different preferences from each parent, we'll write to both of them and explain that their application can't be processed until an agreement is reached.
We'll need written confirmation from each parent corroborating their agreement or a court order following a parental dispute.
If no agreement is reached then all preferences will be 'frozen' and a place will be offered at the nearest school to the child's home address with places available.
For in-year admissions, children are expected to remain at their current school until there is written evidence submitted by the parents about their agreed preference, or an order is made by the court.
Choosing 4 schools
We encourage parents to give 4 preferences for schools as we allocate places based on demand and the number of places available.
- If you only state one preference for your child and a place cannot be offered, we'll give your child a place at the next nearest school with spaces available. You won't increase your chance of obtaining a place at any school by selecting one preference or the same school 4 times.
- If a school is oversubscribed, its admissions criteria will be used to work out who's offered a place.
- If your choice has been refused, you have the right to appeal.
The supporting evidence for community and voluntary controlled primary schools should be sent to the admissions team.
Other schools may require you to complete a supplementary form. You should check with the school to see if they require this. The forms are available from the school and should be returned directly to them.
If you're applying for a specific school on the basis of a medical or psychological condition, you'll be required to provide evidence of this directly to the school.
Failure to provide relevant evidence may lead to your child missing out on a place at your preferred school.
Foundation, voluntary aided schools and academies - if you're applying for a place in a voluntary aided, foundation school or academy, you should send supporting information directly to them. We're not responsible for information sent to us in error.
Change of address
When completing the form you should bear in mind any plans you have for moving from your present address.
If you change your address between submitting your application and 16 February 2024, we'll use your new address when allocating places, as long as you can provide proof of your new address. However, any change of preference submitted will be considered a late application.
Because the number of places available in each school is limited, it may not be possible to use your new address unless you quote your actual move date. You'll also need to provide written confirmation from your estate agent or solicitor that contracts have been signed and exchanged.
If you're renting a property we'll need a copy of:
- Utility bill
- Bank statement
- Council Tax bill or child benefit entitlement
- The tenancy agreement for not less than 12 months covering the date your child will be admitted to school.
Amending your application
You can amend your online application at any time up to the closing date. After you re-open your application you must always submit your changes or they won't be saved and your application may not be processed.
After you submit your application, you'll get an email confirming that your changes have been received.
If you submit more than one application for your child, we'll process the most recent application.