Primary School Places

19th April 2022

Today’s date will be an incredibly significant one for thousands of mums and dads up and down the country. Tuesday 19th April will have been ringed in thick red marker pen on many a household calendar for many months as a crucial reminder of the date of their child’s most significant educational milestone to date – the allocation of their primary school place. While the majority of families will get their preferred primary school place for a September 2022 start, sadly some won’t. So, faced with that undoubtedly disappointing scenario, what should you do? According to Brookham’s Headteacher, Sophie Baber, the first and most important thing is don’t panic.

“Don’t let your child see that you are upset,” she said. “In fact, I would strongly advise you not to open the email in front of your child. The last thing you want is to transfer any stress or anxiety on to your child.”

If an application has been unsuccessful, according to Mrs Baber there are four options: parents can choose to accept the alternative offer of a school that has enough space, put their child on the waiting list of their preferred schools, make an appeal or, if they are able and willing to, consider paying for private education.

 “Once you have processed the offer and collected your thoughts, it’s time to accept the school place you have been offered,” she said. “While this may seem counter intuitive, it’s important that your child has a school to go to in September. If you don’t, the chances are that you could lose your place and be offered an even less desirable option. This will not affect your right to appeal. I would then advise phoning your preferred choice of school. This may prove challenging at this time. If you think it’s brilliant, the chances are so will lots of other parents. As a result, the phones are likely to be busy and the waiting list may be long. Once again don’t panic, if you cannot get through, leave a message and follow up with an email asking to add your child to the list.”

And Mrs Baber added: “Remember, there is always movement, places come up all the time and it’s not uncommon to be offered a place on the first day of the new school year. If you don’t get a reply to your email within a couple of days, check that your message has been received.”

Once your child’s name is securely on the waiting list, it’s time to consider appealing. Mrs Baber advises: “You have the right to appeal but, if you are to be successful, you need to have a solid case. Your reason could relate to a mistake in the admissions arrangements or the suitability of a school to meet your child’s needs. It is important to note that each local authority will have a slightly different process, so it is imperative to check out your local authority’s website. Don’t forget to have all your supporting evidence in a digital format, so that it can be uploaded and submitted all at the same time. You may want to consider employing a solicitor or a member of a schools’ appeals organisation to help.”

But she warned that going to appeal is “extremely stressful” and the chances of success were “limited”, leaving one further option that parents may wish to consider. “There are some truly outstanding independent schools around,” she said.

“With nurturing smaller class sizes and an enviable breadth of curriculum, delivered by specialist teachers, this is a brilliant back-up plan. If you are in the fortunate position of being able to afford this option, you will find that many independent schools will be open for admissions all year round. If financially this seems an impossibility, it is worth picking up the phone and asking about any bursaries on offer.”

Highfield and Brookham Schools are open for admissions, so if you are interested in finding out about places in Reception and Year 3, contact Charlotte Cottrell on or call 01428 722005.