Frequently asked questions
When should I be applying for a Primary/Secondary school place for my child?
If your child was born on or between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012 you must apply by 15 January 2016 for a primary school place for your child
If your child was born on or between 1 September 2004 and 31 August 2005 you must apply by 31 October 2015 for a secondary school place for your child.
What if my child is already in the nursery class at my chosen school?
If your child is attending a nursery class attached to an infant or primary school, you MUST still apply for a reception class place. There is NO automatic transfer from nursery to reception class. You must submit an application by the closing date and your child must meet the published admissions criteria of the school in order to be considered for a place.
When should I apply for a junior school place if my child is attending an infant school?
If your child will be attending year 2 in an infant school during 2015/16, you should complete an ‘Application to Transfer’ form and submit the completed form by 15 January 2016.
Will I need to complete more than the one application form?
Certain schools require applicants to complete a Supplementary Information Form (SIF). These schools include Voluntary Aided Schools, Academies and Foundation Schools.
The SIF is designed to collect information that is not requested on the Common Application Form and will be used by the school to apply its admission criteria. This can be obtained by visiting the school website, or by contacting the school directly. This form must be returned directly to the school. Completion of a SIF is not mandatory, however if you do not complete one, the school will be unable to fully apply their admission criteria.
You must still complete the CAF, which you return to the Local Authority, and list the school as one of your six preferences. A SIF will not be considered on its own.
Applications for twins, triplets, etc.
Schools consider applications separately. If families want their children to attend the same school, the same schools must be listed in the same order.
Can I express a preference for a school?
You do not have a right to choose a school for your child but you do have the right to express a preference or preferences.
On Croydon’s Common Application Form (CAF) you can express preferences for six schools, and you are recommended to use all six preferences.
The law requires school admission authorities to meet parental preference for a school wherever they possibly can. Most parents are successful in securing a place at a preferred school but, as there are only so many places available in each school, some parents are disappointed.
All admission authorities (i.e. local authorities, academies, voluntary aided, foundation and free schools) must provide information which explains how they decide which children will be offered places if they receive more applications than they have places available. This information is normally called 'admissions criteria'. The admissions criteria will vary from school to school, and so you should look at the admissions criteria for each school you are interested in, and check whether your child meets their admissions criteria.
How are parental preferences used?
If you have listed 6 schools in preference order and all 6 schools are in a position to offer a place in accordance with their published admissions criteria, the system will automatically seek the highest preference, i.e. your first preference, and make you an offer of a place at this school. All your lower preferences are withdrawn as these are no longer required.
If you listed 6 schools in preference order and preferences 3, 4, 5 and 6 are in a position to offer a place in accordance with their published admissions criteria, the system will automatically seek the highest preferences i.e. your third preference and offer your child a place at this school. Your lower preferences 4,5 and 6 are withdrawn as these are no longer required. Your child will then automatically be placed on the waiting list for your higher preferences 1 and 2, so that your child may be reconsidered for a place at either of these two schools in subsequent allocation rounds should any places become available. These offers will continue to be made in accordance with the schools’ published admissions criteria.
Please see the section below on the operation of waiting lists.
My child already has a brother or sister (sibling) in our chosen school. Will my child get priority if they have a older brother or sister already attending the school?
Not all schools give siblings priority; you must check each school's admissions criteria.
If you are applying for a reception class place, a sibling in Year 6 at the time of the application does not qualify as he/she will have left the school by the time your younger child is due to start.
Important: Even if you have stated in your application that you are expressing a preference for a particular school under the sibling criteria, this will only be treated as valid if you have completed the correct section on the online or paper application form.
What if there is a medical reason for applying to a certain school for my child?
The medical reasons must be verified by a G.P or consultant and declared at the time of application. Claims for priority admission on medical grounds will not be considered if submitted after a decision on the original applications has been made.
The application must be supported by a letter from a hospital consultant and/or the family GP.
For community/voluntary controlled schools, a medical form must also be completed, and decisions on priority of admission on medical grounds are made by the authority, following advice from the authority’s medical advisor.
For all other schools, please check their admissions policy to see if they include medical criteria, and, if so, how decisions are taken on applications made on medical grounds.
Will I have a better chance of getting my first preference than someone who lists it as a second or lower preference?
No. Schools you apply for will have no knowledge of where they are ranked in your list of preferences; this is confidential. All applications received by these schools receive equal consideration and are ranked against the schools’ admission criteria. The preference order will only be used when it is possible for more than one school to offer you a place; this is why it is important that you list the schools in your exact order of preference.
Applying for only one school will not increase your chances of being offered a place at that school.
Many schools frequently receive more applications than they have places available. To give you the safest chance of getting into a local school, it is very important that you include other schools in your area, in the event that a place at your first preference school is not available.
The Local Authority can only process applications according to the preferences you have listed on your application form. Failing to list other preferences on your form can result in disappointment, as your child can only be considered for a place at other schools if they have places left once all other parents’ preferences for these schools have been considered. For example, even if you live closer to a school than another family, they could be considered above you unless you have listed that school on your form.
What do I do if I want to apply for a school in another borough?
If you are a resident of the London Borough of Croydon, you must apply on Croydon’s Common Application Form (CAF), regardless of which local authority the schools are located within.
For example, if you are a Croydon resident and want to apply to a Lambeth school you must apply using Croydon’s CAF. But if you are a Lambeth resident and want to apply for a Croydon school, you must apply using Lambeth CAF.
What if I am interested in applying to private/independent (fee-paying) schools?
The Common Application Form (CAF) must not be used to list any independent/private schools you are considering; you must apply to them directly.
My child is not resident in the UK. Can I still apply?
No. The child must be resident in the UK at the time of application. If your child arrives outside the normal admissions round you need to submit an 'In Year Admission' application form for a school place.
How much information from my application will be passed onto my preferred schools?
Each school will be given only the information it needs to consider your application against their admission criteria. Schools will not know what other applications you have made or your order of preference.
What counts as a child’s permanent address?
The child’s address should be that of the child’s permanent place of residence. A business address, work place address, or childminder’s address will not be accepted. A relative’s or carer’s address can be considered ONLY if those person(s) have legal custody of the child. In these circumstances, evidence of legal custody/parental responsibility – i.e. a court order – must be supplied to Croydon Council.
What if my child has shared custody?
It is expected that where there is shared parental responsibility for a child, parents will agree which parent has the main responsibility before completing their application form. Where parents are separated and share custody, the parent with whom the child spends most of the school week (which will be the address where child benefit is payable) should make the application. An application can only be made from a single address and only one application can be made for each child.
If the parent making the application lives at a different address, a letter of explanation should be given and signed by both parents. Custody issues cannot be resolved by the local authority. If parents are going through a separation or a divorce and do not live together but share parental responsibility over a child, the local authority will disclose details of a child’s application upon request from one parent who shares the parental responsibility.
Who has parental responsibility and what happens in cases of private fostering?
Parental responsibility is defined by the Children Act 1989 and amended by the Adoption and Children Act 2002. Parental responsibility in its simplest form is ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’.
For children born prior to 1 January 2003, the child’s natural mother acquired parental responsibility automatically at birth. The child’s natural father only acquired parental responsibility if he was married to the mother at the time of birth or if they married subsequently. Other people can obtain parental responsibility by seeking a parental responsibility legal agreement, obtained with the consent of all persons with parental responsibility or by a court order, or when a child is placed with them for legal adoption.
Step-parents, grandparents and other close relatives do not have automatic parental responsibility, and can only acquire it through a legal agreement or court order. If you are a distant relative or no relation to the child you are caring for, it is likely that you are a private foster parent. In law this means you must tell your local council you are caring for the child and also you must tell the child’s parents (or the person with parental responsibility) about the application for a school place and obtain their permission. You can find more information on parental responsibility at www.gov.uk/parental-rights- responsibilities.
What if the applications is for a looked-after child or previously looked-after child?
Applications for children in public care (looked- after children) must confirm which local authority is responsible for the child and be accompanied by a letter from the child’s social worker confirming their legal status and that he/she will still be looked-after when the child is admitted to the school.
Applications for children who were looked-after, but ceased to be so because they were immediately adopted (or became subject to a residence order or a special guardianship order) must be accompanied by a letter and/or documentary evidence from the child’s social worker, advisory teacher or other relevant professional, as well as a letter from the local authority that previously looked-after the child confirming that he/she was looked after immediately prior to the order being made.
What if the child’s address changes?
Croydon Council must be notified of changes of address by 10 February 2016 so that the new address can be used, if needed to prioritise your preferences for schools under the distance criteria. Failure to do so could result in your application being considered from the previous address, and your child being denied a place at a preferred school. All changes of address will be thoroughly investigated
to ensure there is a permanent commitment to the new address. Changes of address can only be considered when Croydon Council receives documentary evidence that you and your child are resident in the property and able to prove you have no connection with your previous address - that is, the new address is not a temporary arrangement to access a preferred school. Examples of documents to be provided are a letter from a solicitor confirming the date of completion of contract for the new place of residence or a copy of the new tenancy agreement stating commencement date, together with evidence of residence, for example a utility bill.
If your address changes after 10 February 2016, you must still notify the local authority immediately, providing documentary evidence as described above, so that your new address can be taken into account when determining your child’s position on schools’ waiting lists after National Offer day.
Croydon Council must be notified of changes of address by 10 December 2015, so that the new address can be used, if needed to prioritise your preferences for schools under the distance criteria. Failure to do so could result in your application being considered from the previous address, and your child being denied a place at a preferred school. All changes of address will be thoroughly investigated
to ensure there is a permanent commitment to the new address. Changes of address can only be considered when Croydon Council receives documentary evidence that you and your child are resident in the property and able to prove you have no connection with your previous address - that is, the new address is not a temporary arrangement to access a preferred school. Examples of documents
to be provided are a letter from a solicitor confirming the date of completion of contract for the new place of residence or a copy of the new tenancy agreement stating commencement date, together with evidence of residence, for example a utility bill.
If your address changes after 10 December 2015, you must still notify the local authority immediately, providing documentary evidence as described above, so that your new address can be taken into account when determining your child’s position on schools' waiting lists after National Offer day.
What if my application is late?
Croydon will consider late applications in the initial allocation round only if the application is late for a good reason and it is received no later than 10 February 2016. Examples of what may be considered a good reason include: when a single parent has been ill for some time or has been dealing with the death of a close relative; or a family has just moved into the area or is returning from abroad (proof of home ownership or a tenancy agreement will be required in these cases). Other similar circumstances may be considered and each case will be decided on its own merits.
If you submit an application or change your existing preferences, or order of preferences, after 15 January 2015, but before 10 February 2016 without a good reason for doing so, the whole application will be treated as late, and this may jeopardise the possibility of your child being offered a place at one of your preferred schools.
Applications which are late for no good reason and any that are received after 10 February 2016 but before 18 April 2016 will not be considered in the initial allocation round but will be allocated available places after all on-time preferences have been processed. Where a place cannot be offered at a preferred school, your child will be offered the nearest school to your normal place of residence, (i.e. application address) with available places.
The latest date that a late application (with good reason) can be accepted for Croydon residents will be 10 February 2016.
Croydon will only consider late applications in the initial allocation round if the application is late for a good reason. Examples of what may be considered a good reason include: when a single parent has been ill for some time or has been dealing with the death of a close relative; or a family has just moved into the area or is returning from abroad (proof of ownership or tenancy agreement will be required in these cases). Other circumstances will be considered and each case will be decided on its own merits.
If you submit an application or change your existing preferences, or order of preferences, after 31 October 20154 and before the 10 December 2015 with good reason for doing so, the application will be treated as on time. Otherwise your application will be treated as late and this may jeopardise the possibility of your child being offered a place at one of your preferred schools.
Applications which are late for no good reason and those that are received after 10 December 2015 but before 1 March 2016 will not be considered in the initial allocation round but will be allocated available places after all on time applications have been processed. Where a place cannot be offered at a preferred school, your child will be offered the nearest school to the application address with available places.
The final acceptance date for Croydon applications that are late for a good reason is 10 December 2015.
What if my child has special educational needs?
Primary schools meet the special educational needs of a wide range of pupils and receive funding to do this. A number of children may need some extra help and support and this may involve a referral to additional support services.
For a small number of pupils, there will be a more detailed and formal assessment of their needs, which may then lead to the local authority maintaining a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan. This statement or plan may name a mainstream school, enhanced learning provision (ELP) attached to a mainstream school or a special school.
With effect from September 2014, children who have special educational needs that would normally lead to them being given a statement of special educational need, may instead be given an education, health and care plan. Also those existing children with a statement of special educational need, may, over a three year period, have their statements converted to an education, health and care plan. Therefore, where, in this prospectus, reference is made to statements of special educational needs, these should also be read as referring to education, health and care plans.
A list of special schools and ELPs in Croydon which cater for children within the primary school age range, is included in the prospectuses.
If your child has a statement of special educational needs, do not complete a Common Application Form. Croydon SEN team will organise a place for your child.
Advice: You can seek independent advice from Croydon Parent Partnership Service on 020 8688 8288. If your child has a statement, you can contact Croydon’s SEN team on 020 8726 6400.
When will I know the outcome of my application?
Letters are posted first class to the applicant’s address on 16 April 2016. If you applied online you will be sent an email during the evening of 16 April 2016 with the outcome of your application. Please wait until you have received the email before logging onto the Pan London Admissions website.
You will be able to accept or decline your offered school online. However we recommend that you wait until you have received your letter from the Local Authority.
Letters are posted first class to the applicant address on 1 March 2016. If you applied online you can see the results of your application from the evening of 1 March 2016 rather than waiting for your letter to arrive in the post. In addition you will receive an email with the results of the application later that day.
What happens if I am not offered my most preferred school?
You should accept the place offered as this is the best offer available to you at that time and ensures your child has a school place secured for September 2016. In the meantime, your child's name will automatically remain on the waiting list of any Croydon schools for which you expressed a higher preference to the one already offered. Accepting the original offer will not affect your place on the waiting list or your right of appeal. Only a small number of places will become available to be re-offered.
What will happen if I do not want to accept the place offered to me?
Accepting the offer will not affect your place on a waiting list or your right of appeal at your preferred school/s.
The authority is not able to process a refusal of an offered place until written notification has been received from the parent/carer stating the alternative school provision they have secured. Although your child will remain on the waiting list at your preferred Croydon school/s there is no guarantee that a place will become available. It would then be your responsibility to secure an alternative school place.
Will my child automatically be on the waiting list for a school in another local authority?
You are advised to contact the relevant admissions team in the other local authority to find out how the waiting list system operates for their schools.
What will I need to do if I am offered a place from a waiting list?
Should you receive a higher preference offer you can accept (and return the original place) or decline and keep the school place previously offered to you.
Can I re-apply for lower preferences or add further school preferences to my original application?
After 16 April 2016, you can apply for any Croydon or other authority school you had not previously applied for.
After 1 March 2016, you can apply for any Croydon or other authority school you had not previously applied for.
Do I have the right to appeal if I am not offered my preferred school?
Yes. You have the right to appeal to an independent appeals panel for any school you have applied for. Details of the appeals process will be attached to the offer letter sent on 16 April 2016.
Yes. You have the right to appeal to an independent appeals panel for any school you have applied for. Details of the appeals process will be attached to the offer letter sent on 1 March 2016.