Full details relating to information on this page can be found in the following:
Please be aware: You must consider how your child will travel to and from school before you apply for a school place. Your child might not be eligible for funded school travel to their catchment area school if this is not the nearest suitable school.
Applying for a primary school place: step by step
Step 1: Check when you need to apply
You must apply for a primary, infant or junior school place for the 2023/2024 school year by the closing date of 15 January 2023.
This will give you the best chance of your child being offered a place at one of your preferred schools.
If you're moving house, it is still important that you make an application by the closing date.
We will need evidence to show that you are legally committed to your move so that we can use your new address in the on time allocation process. You must send this written evidence to the Admissions Team by the closing date. If this is not possible, then by 3 February 2023 at the very latest.
Summer born children
If your child was born between 1 April and 31 August you can choose not to send them to school until the September following their fifth birthday. There is a separate process to follow.
You can read more about this in the Admissions to Schools in Suffolk 2023/2024 guide.
If we don’t receive your application by the closing date it may not be dealt with until after places have been offered to those who applied on time. This means that all of the places at your preferred schools may have already been filled before we process your application.
If you are unable to apply by 15 January 2023, and we agree that there are very exceptional reasons for an application being late, we will consider it as on time if it is received by 3 February 2023 and evidence is provided with your application.
This only applies in circumstances outside your control which made it impossible for the application to have been made on time.
Read the Admissions to Schools in Suffolk 2023/2024 guide for more information about anything in this section.
Step 2: Find schools in your area
Find your nearest schools
We strongly recommend that you check which school is your child's nearest suitable school on our Nearest School Checker because this might not be their catchment area school.
You can find out which are your child's three nearest Suffolk schools (based on the statutory walking distance including Public Rights of Way) by putting your postcode into our Nearest School Checker.
We update this each year to include new roads and developments.
Please see Step 4 for information on Suffolk County Council funded school travel.
Check if there is a catchment area school for your child's home address
A catchment area is the geographical area served by a school. The catchment area school may not be the nearest school to your child’s home address.
Some voluntary aided, free schools and academies do not operate catchment areas. Please check the school's admissions policy for details.
Use our school catchment area lists to find out if your child's address has a catchment area school.
You can view the catchment area map for individual schools on Suffolk Infolink.
We would only provide Suffolk County Council funded school travel to your child's catchment area school if it is the nearest school to their home that would have had a place available for them and they meet the distance criteria. Please see Step 4 for further information.
If you live near a county border
If you live near the border with Cambridgeshire, Essex or Norfolk you may wish to apply for schools in those local authorities. You can visit their websites for details about the schools in their areas.
If your child lives in Suffolk and you want to apply for a school in a neighbouring authority, you must still apply through Suffolk County Council.
If you live outside Suffolk you must apply to your home local authority if you are applying for a Suffolk school.
Step 3: Find out about the schools you want to apply for
Finding information about schools
You can find information about schools in Suffolk and other counties from their:
- open days
Search the list of schools' details, admissions policies and Supplementary Information Forms or read the Directory of Schools in Suffolk. This will help you to understand how places are offered for each school you are interested in, as they may be different from one another.
The list of schools and the Directory includes:
- contact details for each school
- the number of places in the year group, known as the Published Admission Number (PAN), and information relating to last year’s on time applications
- the admissions policy which includes the oversubscription criteria used to rank applications
Choosing your school preferences
You can apply for up to 3 schools, putting them in order of preference.
Each of your preferences will be considered equally and separately.
Your preferences and the order you put them on your admissions application could affect your child’s eligibility for SCC funded school travel. Please see Step 4 for further information.
Listing second and third preferences will not affect your child’s chance of being offered their first preference. Your first preference will be offered above your second or third preferences where possible.
We cannot guarantee your child a place at any school.
Choosing a school for a child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
Step 4: Think about how your child will get to school
Suffolk County Council (SCC) Funded School Travel
Please be aware: You must consider how your child will travel to and from school before you apply for a school place.
The following information is very important:
1. We will provide SCC funded school travel to the Nearest Suitable School that would have had a place available for your child when they are: a) aged under 8 and live at least two miles from the school; or b) aged 8 or older and live at least three miles from the school. This would be whether or not an application was made for a place at that school. The nearest suitable school might not be your child's catchment area school.
2. It is important that you check which school is your child’s nearest suitable school on our Nearest School Checker for the 2023/2024 school year, because this might not be the catchment area school. You can find out which are the three nearest Suffolk schools (based on the statutory walking distance including Public Rights of Way) by putting your child’s postcode into our Nearest School Checker. We update this each year to include new roads and developments.
3. We would only provide SCC funded school travel to your child's Catchment Area School if it is the nearest suitable school to their home that would have had a place available for them and they meet the distance criteria.
4. Your School Preferences and the order you put them on your admissions application could affect your child’s eligibility for SCC funded school travel. Our school travel scenarios can help you work out when your child might be eligible for SCC funded school travel to their school when the age and distance criteria are met. There is also detailed information on School Travel to County High School, Upper Site, Beetons Way and County High School, Lower Site, Oliver Road from September 2023.
5. Full details about SCC funded school travel, including the School Travel Policy, additional arrangements for low income families and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), can be found at Suffolk on Board.
Step 5: Apply for a school place
You must apply for a primary, infant or junior school place for the 2023/2024 school year by the closing date of 15 January 2023.
How to apply
Most parents in Suffolk apply for a school place online.
When applying online you:
- will receive confirmation of your application by email
- can check or change your application right up to the closing date
- can view the outcome of your application online on the offer day
- will receive an email with details of your school offer on the offer day
Your online application must be completed and submitted before midnight on 15 January 2023.
You cannot complete or make a new online application after this time.
When you apply online you must not submit a paper application (CAF1).
If you are unable to apply online you'll need to complete a paper application form (CAF1)*.
Your application form must be received on or before 15 January 2023.
You can email or post your application to the Admissions Team. If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can take photos of your application form, evidence or supporting information and attach these to your email.
If you email your paper application (CAF1) or evidence to the Admissions Team, you do not need to send us a copy in the post.
We do not acknowledge receipt of paper applications, so we strongly suggest that you get proof of postage as we cannot be responsible for forms lost in the post.
*If you don't have a printer please contact us on 0345 600 0981 (local rate) and we will send you a paper application form in the post.
Supplementary Information Form (SIF)
You may need to complete a SIF if one of your preferences is for the following type of school:
- Free school
- Voluntary aided
A SIF provides extra information for the admissions authority. This helps them apply their oversubscription criteria to rank your application.
Check the oversubscription criteria for the schools you wish to apply for. Find the oversubscription criteria and the SIFs in the list of schools' details, admissions policies and Supplementary Information Forms or in the Directory of Schools in Suffolk.
You need to send your SIF to the school.
Step 6: Find out when you'll be offered a school place
If you applied online
You'll be able to view the outcome of your application on 17 April 2023, the National Offer Day.
You can view your school place offer by logging into the school admissions portal you used to apply.
You'll also receive an email with details of your child’s offer of a school place.
If you have not been offered a place at your preferred school(s), this email will give you more information about what to do next. This will include details of how to make an appeal.
If you applied on a paper application form
We'll send you a letter by second class post on 17 April 2023 with the offer of a school place.
You'll receive this letter after 17 April 2023.
If you have not been offered a place at your preferred school(s), this letter will give you more information about what to do next. This will include details of how to make an appeal.
Step 7: What to do after receiving your offer
Read the Admissions to Schools in Suffolk 2022/2023 guide for more information about anything in this section.
If you're happy with the school your child has been offered
We will assume you have accepted the school place offered to your child if we have not heard from you by 1 May 2023.
This will not affect your chances of getting a place at a higher preference school either:
- from the waiting list
- through an appeal (for any of your preferred schools that your child has been refused a place at)
If your child has been offered a school in another county, you may be required to formally accept the place. Please contact the school directly for details.
If you're not happy with the school your child has been offered
If we are unable to offer your child a place at any of your preferred school(s), we will automatically add their name to the waiting list for that school(s).
Names are placed on the waiting list in priority order. This is set out in the school’s admissions oversubscription criteria.
The order of the waiting list can change when:
- a new child’s name is added
- the circumstances of a child already on the list changes
This means a child’s place on the waiting list can go up or down, for example, due to withdrawals or late applications.
The waiting lists will close on 31 December 2023 for:
- community and voluntary controlled schools
- voluntary aided schools and academies who have agreed to operate the same policy as Suffolk County Council
You can find out when the waiting lists close for voluntary aided, free schools and academies who do not follow the same policy as Suffolk County Council from the schools directly.
Appealing the decision
You have the right of appeal if your child has been refused a place at any of your preferred school(s).
If you applied on time, you should submit your appeal form to the Education Appeals Office by 16 May 2023.
Appeals received on or before 16 May will be heard by 18 July 2023.
If they are received after these dates they may be heard later. In some case, appeals may not be heard until after the beginning of the new school year.
If you want to apply for a different school(s)
You must submit a paper application (CAF1) if you wish to apply for a different school(s) after receiving an offer of a school place.
However, the new application will supercede your previous application.
This means that you must include any schools from your first application above your new preferences on your second or subsequent application if you would like them to remain as a live preference and you still want:
- the right to appeal
- your child’s name to remain on the waiting list
- The oversubscription criteria for community and voluntary controlled schools
- Published Admission Numbers for Suffolk schools
The Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme for schools in Suffolk for the 2023/2024 school year explains how Suffolk County Council co-ordinates admission arrangements for the normal year of intake for all mainstream schools in Suffolk and with other neighbouring authorities.
Find out about Suffolk's Fair Access Protocol.
Ofsted are changing the way they inspect and report on schools. Parents can find out how this will affect them.
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