Schools and learning

Who decides where your child goes to school?

Each school has its own set of rules they use to decide which children to offer a place to. This is called their admissions policy. The admissions policy is used if a school is oversubscribed - when there are more applicants than places available.

In Liverpool, most schools are oversubscribed. This is why it is so important that you read each school’s policy before you submit your school preference form to the local authority.

If your child does not meet the criteria for a particular school, they may not be offered a place.

In the event a school is oversubscribed, common rules include prioritising children who:

  • are in the care of the local authority
  • have a disability or special educational needs
  • have an older sibling at the school
  • have proof of worship (for faith schools)
  • have a parent who works at the school
  • have an aptitude for music
  • pass an entrance exam
  • live the shortest distance from home to school

Each school lists their rules in order of who gets priority and not all schools use the same priority order.

You should read the admissions policy for each of the schools you want to apply for. This will help you to check what chance your child has of getting a place before you list your order of preference on the local authority application form.

What happens after I've submitted my school preferences?

When an admissions policy is determined by the school and its board of governors, the school will share this with the local authority in priority order, with those meeting the school's criteria being offered a place first.

The local authority will then co-ordinate the offers, based on your order of preference and your other choices will be released back into the system to be allocated to other applicants. This means everyone will receive their offer on the same day - 1st March for secondary schools and 17th April for primary schools.

Schools do not see your order of preference. You could meet the criteria for all your preferred schools but will be offered your highest preference. Children who meet the first priority will get a place before children who meet the second priority, and so on.

Josie applies to City Primary as their first preference school. Josie's child is not offered a place there, even though their home is a short distance from the school.

There were more applications than places available, so the school used their admissions policy to decide who to give places to. 30 places were available:

  • 2 places went to children who are fostered (priority 1)
  • 20 places went to children with a sibling at the school (priority 2)
  • the remaining 8 places went to children who lived the shortest distance from home to school, which was closer to the school than Josie and their child.

Instead, Josie was offered a place at their second preference school, which had 30 places available:

  • 5 places went to children who have a sibling at the school (priority 2)
  • 20 places went to children who live the shortest distance from home to school (priority 3)
  • the remaining 5 places went to children who live the next shortest distance from home to school (after all the priority group 3 children), including Josie's child (priority 4).

If you do not get an offer for any of your preferred schools

If we are unable to offer a place at any of your preferred schools - for example, if you do not meet the criteria - we will offer you a place at another school which still has places available.