Common admissions assumptions and misunderstandings

It is easy to make assumptions about how school admissions works. Here are some of the common assumptions and misunderstandings as well as the facts.

My child has a right to a place at one of my preferred schools

Not true! Your child will only be offered a place if they qualify according to the school’s admission criteria. If your child does not qualify for any of your preferred schools (e.g. because your preferences were unrealistic) they will be offered a place at the nearest school to your home with a vacancy remaining after all on-time applicants have been offered places.

I don’t need to apply because I have an older child already at the school

Not true! Everyone must apply for their child even if they have a brother or sister already at the school. Most schools give priority to brothers and sisters but if you don’t apply you could miss out on a place.

My child is in the nursery class so they will automatically go into Reception at the same school

Not true!  You must apply for your child even if they already attend the nursery. Schools must consider applications from children in the nursery in the same way as all other applicants, i.e. in accordance with the admission criteria for the school. Children in the nursery are not given priority.

If I list only one school then I have to be offered a place

Not true! Listing only one school does not increase your child’s chances of being offered a place. You are strongly advised to include your nearest schools amongst your preferences.

I live nearer to the school than the last child offered under the distance criterion last year so I’m guaranteed a place

Not true! The home to school distance of the last child offered a place will change every year.

Children in my road go to the school so my child will too

Not always. The number of pupils offered under each criterion at each school can change every year. Just because you know pupils living near you that go to a certain school, it does not mean that your child will be offered a place there.

If I apply to a school in another borough, their residents will have priority over me

Not always! Some admission authorities may give priority to local children, i.e. based on postcode, however published admissions criteria cannot include the borough of residence. You should read the admission arrangements to see how children are prioritised for a place.

It does not matter if my application is late

It matters! If you apply after the closing date we will look at your application after all those that applied on time have been processed. In this case it is very unlikely that you will be offered a place at a popular school.

I can only apply for Hackney Schools

Not true! You can apply for both Hackney and out of borough schools by listing them on the Hackney application form.


Admissions and Pupil Benefits Team

020 8820 7000
This page was last modified on: 5 Sep 2023