The information on the page is applicable to both reception and secondary school admissions.
It is advised that parents and carers arrange to visit the preferred schools prior to making an application, as once the place is offered, it may not be possible to accommodate a change of preference later in the process.
Before expressing a preference for a school place, it is important to make a realistic assessment of your child’s chance of gaining a place at your preferred school(s).
Making an informed decision
Does the law say I can choose the school my child attends?
The law does not give you the right to choose a school for your child. However, it does allow you to make a preference as to which school you would like you child to attend and we must try to meet that preference.
Preferences will be met unless more applications are received than there are places available. Where that is the case, the relevant oversubscription criteria will be applied to all preferences. Places are then allocated in strict criteria order, in accordance with the relevant Admission Arrangements. Section 3 outlines the Admission Arrangements - including oversubscription criteria - for all Cheshire West and Chester schools.
Please note: not all oversubscription criteria are the same so it’s important to read the criteria for each school you are considering making a preference for.
All preferences will be considered on an “equal preference” basis. This means that all your preferences will initially be considered without reference to your preference ranking. If you could potentially be offered a place at more than one of your preferences (i.e. because a preferred school is undersubscribed or because you meet a high enough criteria for for an oversubscribed school) the school place you will be offered will be the school which you ranked the highest on your application form.
Published Admission Numbers
Admission Authorities (for community and voluntary controlled schools we alongside the governing bodies / trust of voluntary aided schools, free schools and academies) have to determine Published Admission Numbers (PANs) the PAN is used to calculate whether any year group within the school is full or has places available. The PAN is the maximum number of places that will be allocated to the reception class for September. However, The Schools Admissions Code, September 2021, allows Admission Authorities to admit above PAN where it will not adversely affect the school now or in the future or breach infant class size legislation. The Admission Authority must provide sufficient notice to us of any decision to admit above PAN, This is so that we can deliver our co- ordination responsibilities effectively and ensure that, as far as it is practical, every parent living in the borough who has applied for a school place receives a single offer on the same day. Admitting over PAN does not mean there will be permanent increase to the PAN.
What happens if there are more applications for a school than there are places available?
The published oversubscription criteria for the school will be applied to each applicant to determine who will be offered the places. If we can offer you a place at more than one of your preferred schools, we will make you a single offer which will be for the school that you ranked the highest. If you are a resident in the borough and we are unable to offer you any of your preferences, we will allocate you a place at the nearest Cheshire West and Chester school which has places available. This will not affect your right of appeal. If you are not a resident then we will not allocate you a place and you should discuss this with your own council.
I have only one school that I want to name as my preference. Is my first preference more likely to be met if I do not give a second and third preference?
No and you are potentially disadvantaging yourself from receiving a school offer close to your home. We strongly advise that you use all three preferences in priority order for the schools you wish your child to attend. If you only state one school preference and we are unable to offer you a place at that school, we will then have to offer you a place at the nearest school with a place available (residents in the borough only). If you state more preferences and your highest (first) preference is unsuccessful you may then be offered a place at your second or third preference. If you do not use all your preferences and your local schools are filled by those who have expressed a preference then you may be allocated a place at a school some distance away.
Please Note: If you name the same school more than once on the application form this will not increase your chances of being successful. This is the same as only making one preference.
Other information to consider
Travel arrangements need to be an important consideration when you’re making your school preferences. Very few primary children qualify for travel assistance from us.
Since September 2015, travel assistance is only offered to pupils attending their nearest qualifying school (the school that is closest to the pupil’s home address) if it is more than the statutory walking distance.
This may not necessarily be your catchment school if there are nearer schools to your home address with places available.
If you choose to accept a place at a school that is not your nearest qualifying school for travel assistance purposes, you do so on the understanding that transporting your child to that school is your responsibility.
You will need to take any practical arrangements and potential travel costs into account when making your preferences to ensure that your child can to get to and from school at the appropriate time each day.
Please be aware that our home to school transport policy is different from our admissions policy. School places are allocated in accordance with the oversubscription criteria and home to school distances are calculated in a straight line.
Home to school transport distances are assessed using an in-house GIS mapping system that measures the nearest available walking route. This means the result for the nearest qualifying school for transport can be different from the nearest school for admissions purposes.
We recommend that you contact our school transport team to discuss your application and to find out which school is your nearest for travel assistance purposes.
Transport for pupils with special education needs (SEN) and/or disabilities
Once a pupil’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is finalised, the SEN Team will assess their eligibility for home to school travel assistance.
If a pupil is attending their nearest qualifying school and the distance from home to school is over the statutory walking distance, they will be eligible for travel assistance.
If a pupil is attending their nearest qualifying school, but their home to school distance is less than the statutory walking distance, then eligibility will be assessed on their individual needs.
If a pupil is not attending their nearest qualifying school, they will not be eligible for travel assistance and it will be the parent/carer’s responsibility to arrange transport for their child to and from school. For further information contact the SEN team.
Our school transport policies are reviewed annually and therefore are subject to change.
We do not provide travel assistance to faith schools unless it is the nearest qualifying school (the school that is closest to the pupil’s home address and it is more than the statutory walking distance).
From September 2014 the Council no longer provides travel assistance to post 16 students, however will consider individual cases where hardship can be demonstrated.
The address stated on the school application must be the address the child is living at the time of application, that is the address where the child lives and wakes up between Monday to Friday and not a future address.
The address must be the child's home address and not the address used for child care purposes.
The school admissions code gives us the right to withdraw any school place offered on the basis of a fraudulent or intentionally misleading application. If we receive notification of a potentially fraudulent application our fraud and investigations team may be asked to review the information that has been provided. This may include interviewing and taking a signed statement from the applicant.
You must inform us immediately of a change of address. You can notify us of a future house move by including the details as additional information but until a house move actually takes place the new address will not be used.
We will require supporting evidence to show that the child’s place of residence has changed. Documents required are:
- proof of purchase of new property or signed tenancy agreement
- confirmation of the family’s move from the previous property, this can be in the form of: an invoice from a removal company, a disconnection certificate from previous address, documents for the sale or lease of the property, or legal transfer arrangements to another third party, etc
- Council Tax or utility bill (e.g. gas, electric or water bill) confirming usage at the new property
- a formal document confirming the residency of your child, this can be: proof of receipt of Child Benefit or Child Tax Credits at the new address, evidence of your change of address with a bank/building society/Trust Fund account in your child’s name, proof of change of address with a GP/doctors surgery, or a doctors/dentist/hospital appointment letter
The Information Advice and Support Service provides impartial information for parents, children and young people on special educational needs and disability. Staff and volunteers offer personal contact and support with paperwork, attend meetings in school and with the local authority, provide information on voluntary groups and other sources of help including the local offer.
The service is available to parents whose children have special educational needs (SEN) as soon as their needs are identified and at any age from birth until age 25 years.
Section 324 of the Education Act 1996 requires the governing bodies of all maintained schools to admit a child with an education, health and care plan that names their school. Academies will normally be subject to a similar requirement through their agreement with the Department for Education.
For more information contact our special education needs team.
Applications received for a child who is looked after or a child who was previously looked after (but ceased to be because they were adopted or became subject to a child arrangements order or special guardianship order) this includes looked after children or previously looked after children outside England who require admission to a school outside the normal admission round will normally be offered a place at the school serving the address at which the pupil is/will be living. E.G. the catchment area school, or the most appropriate school as determined by the Local Authority even if that school is full.
If applying for an in year school transfer, places will be allocated in advance of the family arriving in the area for children of UK service personnel, if accompanied by an official government letter which declares a relocation date and a Unit postal address or quartering area address for considering the application against our oversubscription criteria. In addition the School Admissions Code (September 2021) allows the admittance of a forces child as a permitted exception in relation to infant class size legislation. If applying for a place in the normal admission round, applications for children of UK Service personnel will be considered alongside all other applications, using the Until postal address or quartering area address following receipt of the above evidence.
The School Admissions Code has included children of multiple births as a permitted exception. This is to ensure that, as far as possible, twins, triplets or children from other multiple births can attend the same school. The Local Authority and school will consider if this will be detrimental to the education and use of resources at the school before making any decision to offer such places.