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Step 2 - what you need to know before applying for a primary school place

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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.

Admission policy

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.​​​​​​

Community and voluntary controlled primary schools​​​ admission policy

​​When a child has a statement of Special Educational Needs naming 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:

  1. ​Looked after and previously looked after children.
  2. Children with exceptional medical needs or exceptional welfare considerations which are directly relevant to the school concerned.
  3. Children with older siblings attending the school.
  4. Children with church affiliation, (only applies to voluntary controlled Church of England schools).
  5. Children eligible for the service premium.
  6. ​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 schools admission policies; it's essential you read these as their admission policy may be different. Schools usually publish their admission policy on their website.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Applying for a primary school ​​​​​frequently asked questions​

​​​​​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.

I​ndependent schools​​​​

​​​​If you wish to apply for an i​ndependent 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 don't want your child to start school in September 2022,​​ 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 17 January 2021, to ensure you're allocated a school place for the 2022-2023 school year.​

  • Children who turn age 5 between 1 September 2022 and 31 December 2022 you can defer admission to the start of the spring term, January 2023 and a school place will be held open for you until then.​
  • Children who turn age 5 between 1 January 2023 and 31 March 2023 you can defer admission to the start of the summer term, April 2023 and a school place will be held open for you until then.
  • ​Children who turn age 5 between 1 April 2023 and 31 August 2023 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 2023). 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 serious ill health, you might believe it to be in the child’s best interest to defer entry. Which means they would be admitted to reception class instead of year 1, when they become of compulsory school age.

These requests must be made in writing with 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.​​​​

​​​​Please give the home address where the child and parent (or carer) normally lives. Not the address of a relative or childminder, or of a parent the child doesn't 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.​​

My child lives with different parents or carers for part of the week, which address should I put on the application?

  • If legal arrangements are in place to s​upport these instances, we'll accept either address.
  • If no legal arrangements exist, the home address where child benefit is paid will be used.

​​​​No. 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.​

​​​​​​​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.

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'll not 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.

You have the right to appeal​ against any choices that have been refused.​

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.

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 the 18 February 2022, 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 as 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.

​​​​​​​​​Yes. 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.

Sign in to amend your application​

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.

​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. ​​

Next step

​​Step 3 - apply for a primary school place​​​​​​​​​​​​

Related pages


0300 303 0340

Phone: Monday-Friday 9am-4.45pm.

Early Help and Schools​
Number One Riverside
Smith Street
Rochdale OL16 1XU