Is your child in the last year of infant, junior or primary school or will they be starting school for the very first time next year? If so, then you are likely to be getting ready to apply to West Sussex County Council Admissions for a school place.
This can be a daunting task trying to make the right decision for your child, so if you’re unsure about what options you have, then we aim to clear some of this up here.
In this blog we give a brief overview of the different schools, some things to consider if your child has SEND and some of the information that is available to help you make your decision.
Starting school & transferring to Junior school
Applications open Monday 7th October 2019 and close Wednesday 15th Jan 2020. Offer date is Thursday 16th April 2020
Transferring to Secondary school
Applications open 9th Sept 2019 and close Thursday 31st Oct 2019. Offer date is Monday 2nd March 2020
What schools can I apply for?
If your child does not have an *EHC Plan (even if they are at *EYPARM stage, in the EHC Needs Assessment process or at SEN Support at school) then at this point, you can only apply for admission to a mainstream school. (Please note: if your child already has an EHC Plan then the process is different so please refer to the information on our resources page)
The mainstream types of school are – Maintained – schools maintained by the Local Authority and Academies, (including church-aided, foundation and free schools) who are funded directly by the Secretary of State. As well as applying through the Admissions system online, some academies (especially church- aided) will also want you to complete their own admissions form. You should be able to find details of this on the county council’s admissions guidance or on the school’s own website.
A special school is a school which is “specially organised to make special educational provision for pupils with SEN” (section 337 of the Education Act 1996) and SSCs (Special support Centres attached to mainstream schools) generally require a child to have an EHC Plan to be able to access these and cannot be applied for through the admissions process.
If you live near the West Sussex border, you may be considering a school either in-county (within West Sussex) or out-of-county (outside of West Sussex). You can apply for an out-of-county school in the same way (but select the county you require from the drop down option on the online form and a list of their schools will appear).
How is the school selected?
Applications are made online. You are entitled to state 3 preferences on the admissions form (which should be listed in preferred order) and it is advisable to make one of them your catchment area school . There are several reasons for this but the main one is that applications are ranked against the school’s over-subscription criteria and not the preference order that they are listed on the application. If you chose an oversubscribed school, the further away you live the less likely you are to be offered a place.
You will also need to check to see whether a Supplementary Information Form (SIF) is needed. These are often required by church-aided , foundation schools and some academies.
What if my child has SEND?
All mainstream schools have a duty to support children with *SEND and are given resources to do this. In fact should you wish your child to be educated in a mainstream school, The SEN Code of Practice states that admissions authorities ” must not refuse to admit a child who has SEN but does not have an EHC plan because they do not feel able to cater for those needs ” (1.27).
There are several things you can do if you want to find out how (not if) a school will be able to support your child:
- Talk to the Senco (you can use the SENDIAS’s list of questions to help you )
- Look at the school’s SEN Information Report (on the school’s website)
- Look at the school’s Ofsted report
- You may consider applying under the Exceptional and Compelling grounds
Exceptional and Compelling circumstances
Some schools have a criteria where priority will be given to applicants if there is a strong medical case or exceptional need for the child to attend the school named first on their application, known as the exceptional and compelling category. However it is quite rare for places to be given under these circumstances. Unfortunately, issues such as difficulties with childcare arrangements or the child’s ability/school performance are not covered by this category.
What if I don’t think my child is ready to start school?
In West Sussex your child may start either full or part-time in the September following their fourth birthday. The School Admissions Code states that parents of summer-born children and those who were born prematurely (who would have naturally fallen into a lower age group if they had been born full-term) can choose not to send their child to school until the September following their fifth birthday. This is known as delayed admission
If you feel this is appropriate for your child , a delayed entry application must be made. It is important to still continue to make an admissions application in the normal way to ensure a school place should the delayed application be refused.
What if I don’t get the school we wanted?
- If you are not offered the school you wanted, you are entitled to appeal the decision.
- You may also have the option of joining a waiting list for the school.
- Keep talking with the Senco and school staff of the school your child has been offered both before and after they start to make the transition as positive as possible.
- *EHC Plan – Education health & care Plan
- *EYPARM – Early Years Planning and Review Meeting
- *SEND – Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities
For further info:
- ‘Support at school’ information on the Local Offer
- Previous school allocation/ admission numbers
- Department of Education Website to get information about a school:
- Ofsted: Inspection reports, obtainable from the Ofsted website, also give a brief outline of the type and characteristics of educational institutions.