Deciding which primary schools to apply for
When you apply for a primary school place for your child you must tell us your 3 school preferences in order of priority. To make these preferences you will need to find out more about the schools.
Find schools in your area
Use our schools directory to find the schools local to you.
Many parents like to send their children to their local primary school. There are many advantages in sending your child to your local school. Your child will go there with friends from the area where you live and it will be easier to travel to and from school.
If you live in a rural area or village, your local school may have a linked area. This may give you some priority if that school is oversubscribed. Use the schools directory to see if a school is linked to your local village or town.
Please be aware that if you wish to apply for a place at your designated, linked or local primary school, you must include the school as a preference.
Find out about the schools you're interested in
You can take the following steps to find out more about schools you are considering:
1. View school detail, type, Ofsted reports and oversubscription admission criteria
Use the schools directory to view the details for each primary school, their Ofsted and performance reports and admissions oversubscription criteria. Putting a school as first preference does not guarantee that you will get a place at that school. It is important for you to understand where your child will fall in the oversubscription criteria.
2. Check whether you need to complete a supplementary information form
Some schools in Northamptonshire require you to complete an information form, which goes directly to the school in addition to the preference form to the county council.
3. Pick up a school prospectus
Many schools have a prospectus or booklet. These are available to view on the school's website, or ask the school for a copy.
4. Visit the school
Most primary schools hold open evenings or days for parents. These give you a good opportunity to ask questions. You will need to contact the schools directly to find out when they are holding open events or often you can find details on the schools' individual websites - there are links to the websites in the schools directory.
5. Understand the different types of schools
Community schools and voluntary controlled schools
West Northamptonshire Council is responsible for the oversubscription admission criteria and the allocation of places.
Voluntary aided schools and foundation (trust) schools
School governors are responsible for setting the oversubscription admission criteria and the allocation of places.
Academies and free schools
The Academy Trust is responsible for setting the oversubscription admission criteria and the allocation of places.
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) is responsible for coordinating the application process so you must return your preference form to WNC for whichever type of school you are applying for.
6. Contact the School Admissions Team for extra help and advice
You can email the School Admissions Team at [email protected] to discuss the application process, and for answers to any queries you may have.
7. Consider how you will get your child to and from school
Consider how you will get your child to and from school each day for each of the schools you intend to name as a preference. If you will need a car to transport your child each day, this is a long term commitment.
You may want to check whether your child would be eligible for free school transport to their nearest available school:
Understand how school places are allocated
When you apply for a place you are asked to list three schools in order of preference.
Every school has a number of places available for applicants – this is the called the published admission number (PAN) for the school.
If fewer than this number of children apply for a place at the school, all of the children will be given a place.
If more than this number of children apply then the ‘oversubscription criteria’ is used to decide which children must be offered a place.
Every school has an oversubscription criteria. It explains the order in which their places will be allocated if the school is oversubscribed. Every child applying is placed within the highest priority group (criterion) that applies to them. Depending on the type of school, priority will be given to different groups, for example, those with siblings already at the school or those living in the linked area.
In many cases when the published admission number (PAN) is reached within one of the criteria groups, a tiebreaker based on distance is used to decide between the children within that criterion. All distance measurements are done on a straight line basis unless the school states otherwise.
It is important that you understand the oversubscription criteria for the schools you wish to apply for, and the likeliness of your child being allocated a place.
Schools' oversubscription criteria can be found on the schools directory.
School places must be allocated on a system called 'Equal preferencing'. This means that where you place each school on your preference form (1st, 2nd or 3rd) is not relevant, and your child will be considered for each preference against that school's oversubscription criteria.
Read a more detailed explanation of equal preferencing.
How to apply for a primary school place
Last updated 21 January 2022