School admissions frequently asked questions
A list of frequently asked questions relating to admissions to schools.
Who is responsible for admissions to school?
All schools have an admission authority that is legally responsible for their admissions.
Swansea Council is the admission authority for all community primary and secondary schools in its administrative area. Some schools are responsible for their own admissions, these are either voluntary aided (VA) schools (in Swansea all of these are church schools) or independent schools. See School admission arrangements 2022/2023 for further information.
Who may complete an application for a child?
You may complete an application for a school place if you are the parent of a child, according to the guidance from the Department for Education.
The definition of a parent in the Education Act includes:
- all natural parents whether they are married or not;
- any person who, although not the natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person; and
- any person who, although not the natural parent, has care of a child or young person in the sense that the child lives with them and they look after that child.
Having parental responsibility means assuming all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent of a child has by law. It is defined by the Children Act 1989. It gives parents the legal right to make decisions and choices, such as where the child will live or go to school. If the parents were married to each other at the time of a child's birth, or if they have been married to each other at any time since the child's conception, they each have parental responsibility.
What is a school admission policy?
An admission policy lays down the method by which school places will be allocated. Admission authorities have a legal responsibility to publish a clear admission policy and to carry it out strictly when considering applications. This is to ensure that the process is fair and transparent.
The admission policy for community and voluntary controlled schools can be viewed using the following link: School admission arrangements 2022/2023
How are home-to-school distances worked out for admission purposes?
All distances are measured by computer. Taking the distance from home to school by the shortest available walking route.
Do I have a right to a place at the school of my choice for my child?
Parental preferences (your choice of school for your child) will be met if at all possible and most children receive a place in the school of their parents' choice. However, this will depend on whether or not the school has room because the LA cannot normally admit over the school's 'admissions number' (AN).
All schools must admit up to their admission number in the year of entry and must not exceed this number. A place at the school of your choice cannot be guaranteed, but in practice, most children are able to go to the school which they and their parents choose. Sometimes, some schools are oversubscribed and applications can be refused.
How do I find out the catchment area school for my address?
Most children attend their catchment area school (note that this school is usually, but not always the school nearest to your home). If you are not sure which school is your catchment school, contact School Admissions Team.
How can I get information about individual schools?
Details about all schools in Swansea are available to view on the following page: School contact details.
Alternative, you might like to request a prospectus directly from schools. School visits can also be very helpful in deciding which school you would like your child to attend. It is important to make an appointment first. Many schools, particularly secondary schools, arrange open days and evenings.
My preferred school is very popular. How can I assess the likelihood of a place for my child?
From the school's admission policy - published in its prospectus - you will be able to work out how high a priority for admission your child will be, based on the list of admission criterion. You will then need to check the breakdown of places allocated last year for the school, in the school directories. This will tell you the number of children the school can admit in September as well as the number of children admitted within each category last year.
Schools will be able to give you an idea of the trend of applications and appeals. However, you must treat the figures with some caution because they can change from year to year. For example, if a new housing development opens in the catchment area of a small infant school, it may affect the number of out-of-catchment applicants the school can admit.
Will my child be guaranteed a place in the catchment area school?
Swansea Council cannot guarantee places in any school.
How will my child get to school? Does Swansea Council help pay transport costs?
Free transport is provided for pupils who live three miles or more from their catchment area school. The distance is measured by the shortest possible available walking route in accordance with the council's Home to School Transport Policy, the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 and the Welsh Government's Learner Travel - Statutory Provision and Operational Guidance (June 2014). Free transport is provided from the beginning of the school year in which pupils reach the age of five. Free transport is not provided for younger / nursery aged children.
If you are applying for a place at a school that is not the designated school for your home address, the responsibility and the cost for getting your child to and from school lies with you as parent / carer. The council will not provide free home to school transport when a pupil does not attend their designated school. This also applies if a pupil is granted a place at a school which is not their designated catchment school as a result of a successful appeal.
You can get more information about school transport from: School transport.
How important is it for me to ensure that my application is received by the deadline?
If your application is late, it will only be considered after all 'on-time' applications have been offered their places, and this may mean you have less chance of a place in your preferred school.
My child lives at different addresses during the week. Which address should I put on the application form?
For children of split families living between 2 address because the parents are permanently living apart, the address at which the child spends the greater part of the school week will be taken as the child's main address when an admission application is considered.
The child needs to be living at the address given on the admission to school application form. Using the address of grandparents, other relatives or family friends will be viewed as fraudulent or misleading information. This could lead to the place at your preferred school being withdrawn.
Proof of address and residency may be required, and the council retains the right to withdraw any place offered on the basis of a fraudulent or intentionally misleading application.
What if I move house after the deadline?
Contact the Admissions Team.
Parents and carers must inform the authority immediately of a change of address, even if details of future change of residency were included on the application form. The authority will require supporting evidences to show that the place of residency has changed, for example, exchange of contracts, tenancy agreements, council tax and utility bills and any other information considered relevant to the application, including disposal of previous property.
If you wish the authority to consider any additional information, supporting documents must be provided together with your application. This information must clearly demonstrate why it is the only school that can meet your child's needs. Relevant decision makers will then consider the information provided in order to reach a decision as to which criteria should be assigned.
If you have submitted an application and subsequently moved into a new property before the offer date you should contact the Admissions Team so that your decision letter is sent to the correct address.
I live near the county boundary, are procedures and deadlines the same in other local authorities?
Procedures and timescales for admissions are not the same in every local authority in Wales.
If you live within Swansea and wish to apply for a school outside of the City and County of Swansea, please contact the local authority responsible for that school in order that they can advise you of the correct procedures for their schools. If you live outside of the City and County of Swansea but wish to apply for a place in a Swansea school please contact the Admissions Team.
What can I do if my child does not get a place in my preferred school?
Parents will be informed, in writing, as to whether their application has been successful or not.
Where their application has been refused, parents will be informed in writing and will be given the option to appeal against the decision not to award a place at the chosen school. They have a right of appeal to an independence appeal panel. If they wish to exercise that right, they should contact the Admissions Team at the Civic Centre.
The appeal will be considered by an independent appeal panel of 3 or 5 people comprising lay members, and persons with experience in education.
Appeals for places at voluntary aided or foundation schools must be made directly to the schools concerned.
Will my child by put on a waiting list?
Waiting lists for all schools (with the exception of voluntary aided schools) are administered by the local authority. If you are unsuccessful in securing a place in your preferred school(s) then your child's name will automatically be placed on the waiting list for that school(s). Accepting a place at another school will not affect your position on the waiting list. If a place in the preferred school(s) becomes available it will be allocated by the local authority in accordance with the oversubscription criteria, not in the order of the date which pupils' names were placed on the list.
Pupils whose parents appeal do not have priority over other pupils on the waiting list. Pupils' names will remain on the waiting list for the whole academic year and will only be removed if they are successful at appeal or if a parent confirms in writing that they no longer wish their child's / children's name to remain on the waiting list. Parents wishing to be considered for a place for their child after this time will need to make a new application.
Can the offer of a place be withdrawn?
The local authority reserves the right to withdraw places in certain circumstances.
A place can be withdrawn if information is received that suggests the application no longer meets the over subscription criteria it was originally assessed on. Any place approved on the basis of residence will be withdrawn if the pupil is no longer permanently resident at the address at the beginning of the school term to which the application relates.
Examples include: where a parent has given fraudulent or intentionally misleading information, such as a false address.
Does admission to a school depend on the parent signing the home-school agreement?
The 1998 School Standards and Framework Act requires every maintained school to have in place a home-school agreement. The agreement sets out the school's aims and ethos, its expectations on the standard of education, discipline and homework, and the information the school and parents will need to give one another.
By signing the agreement, parents are saying that they take note of the school's aims, values and responsibilities and that they acknowledge and accept their parental responsibilities and the schools expectations of its pupils. However, the school cannot refuse to admit a child if the parent is unwilling to sign the home-school agreement.
What are my responsibilities as a parent?
It is your responsibility to ensure that your child receives a full-time education during the 'compulsory years'.
When the child is a registered pupil at a school, this means ensuring that the child attends punctually and regularly and doing everything possible to ensure that he/she behaves in an appropriate way while at school. You should not take your child(ren) out of school for family holidays or extended overseas trips unless you have first discussed this with the headteacher.
The Education Welfare Service works with schools to provide advice and help for pupils and families who have particular difficulties with attendance.
Can my child be moved up or down a year?
Very occasionally, a parent may feel that their child should repeat a year or move to an older year group. Please raise this with the headteacher in the first instance. The final decision rests with the headteacher, not the local authority.
What happens if I have to move house?
Moving house, perhaps because of a change of job, is the commonest reason why children change schools outside the normal times of transfer. But there can be problems if the transfer is not carefully thought through.
Schools cannot reserve places, even for people moving into their catchment area. So the catchment school for the new home may be full. You can still apply to the school, but until you have exchanged contracts or have a signed tenancy agreement, the school cannot use your new address to determine your catchment area. It will speed up the decision-making if you provide a solicitor's letter confirming that the exchange has take place, or a copy of the tenancy agreement.
Any school move during Years 10 or 11 is likely to be difficult. There may be problems matching the curriculum and difficulties with teaching groups in certain subjects - especially science and technology - that are full because of limits on the number of pupils that can safely be accommodated in laboratories and workshops. Make careful enquiries before embarking on a move, unless it really is unavoidable. Schools will do their best to help in these circumstances, but it is not always easy.
Can I transfer my child from one school to another without moving house?
If there are problems in the child's current school, it is always best to try to sort them out first rather than simply to move away from them.
If the school to which you want to transfer your child has places, the process should not be difficult. Even if the school is full, you still have the right to appeal. Whether or not such a transfer helps your child will depend on individual circumstances and why you want the transfer in the first place.