Applying for a school place


Choosing a nursery, school or college placement for child/young person can be a difficult decision. Parents often ask many questions about how they know how to apply for a school place and which school will meet their child’s needs the best.  Following statutory guidance SENDIASS are to remain impartial and therefore cannot recommend a school to you, however, we would advise you to think about the following factors before choosing applying for your child’s school placement

  • Location
  • Close to childcare/family and friend’s support
  • Does your child already know anyone in the school?
  • Do they have siblings that attend the school?
  • What can the school offer your child in terms of SEND support (check out their policy and website)
  • Have you viewed the school and spoke to SENCO?
  • Does the school have wraparound childcare?

How to apply

The government website gives the following information on how to apply for your child’s school place and when you should expect to hear about your child’s placement.

Follow your local council’s application process to:

You must still apply for a place, even if the school is linked to your child’s current nursery, infant or primary school.

Apply directly for:

  • a 6th form place at a school or college
  • a place at a private school

Moving to another area

You apply through your local council even if you’re applying for schools in another council area or you’ve just moved to England.

If you’re applying from another country, contact the local council in the area where you’re going to live.

You may need to:

  • supply proof of your new address, for example a mortgage or rental agreement or deeds for the property
  • prove that you’ll live in the area before the start of the next school term

Completing the application

When you fill in the form (online or on paper) you’ll be asked to list the schools you’re applying for in order of preference.

Listing only one school will not increase your chances of getting a place there.

To get a copy of the application form on paper, contact your local council.

When to apply

Applications open on different days in each local council area. Find out from your local council when applications open for primary or secondary schools.

Applying for a primary school place

You must apply for a primary school place a year before your child can start school.

Applications open in September and close on 15 January. Your child will be 3 or have just turned 4 when you apply.

You’ll need to apply then even if you want your child to start part-way through the year.

Applying for a secondary school place

The deadline for applying is 31 October.

Your child is less likely to be offered a place at their chosen schools if you miss the deadline for applications.

When you’ll find out

Councils will send offers of school places for:

  • primary schools on 16 April
  • secondary schools on 1 March

If either date falls on a weekend or a bank holiday, offers are sent the next working day.

You must accept the offer by the deadline given in the offer letter. Otherwise, it may be withdrawn and the place given to someone else.

The local council must provide a place at another school, if your child is not offered a place at any of the schools you’ve applied for. This is usually your nearest school with places still available.

Applying after the start of the school year

Contact your local council to find out about applying for a school place once the school year has started (known as in-year applications). They can tell you which schools still have places and how to apply.

Once your child has been offered a place, they will usually start school at the beginning of the following term.

In Sunderland if you want to apply for a school place for your child you will need to contact the school admissions team.

School admissions – Sunderland City Council

Secondary applications (Y7) for September 2023 – this includes the link for the Family Portal to apply online and the Information for Parents booklet

Apply for a secondary school place – September 2023 – Sunderland City Council

Primary applications (Reception & Y3 for junior schools) for September 2023 – this includes the link for the Family Portal to apply online and the Information for Parents booklet

Apply for a secondary school place – September 2023 – Sunderland City Council

When the school offers are published, parents/carers receive an email with the link to this page where they can see and accept/decline their offer

Allocation of places – Sunderland City Council

Information about the in-year school transfer process – this includes the secondary & primary application forms and the School Directory

Apply for a school transfer – Sunderland City Council

Information about summer born children & deferred entry to Reception

Request to defer entry to Reception – summer born children – Sunderland City Council

Family Portal – this is used by parents/carers to apply for Reception/Y7, Free School Meals and 2-year-old funding for nursery places

Family_Portal_Guidance.pdf (

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