Everything you need to know about applying for primary and secondary school places for 2021

PUBLISHED: 19:00 20 September 2020

The application window for primary and secondary school places for next year is now open. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The application window for primary and secondary school places for next year is now open. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN


Parents and carers in Suffolk will soon need to apply for primary and secondary school places for children due to start in September 2021.

Is your child starting at a Suffolk school in September 2021? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIs your child starting at a Suffolk school in September 2021? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk County Council received more than 16,000 applications last year for children in the county with 93% securing a place at their first choice school and 98% offered a place at one of their top three preferred choices.

Secondary school places

It’s best to get your application in early as the deadline for secondary school places is October 31, with many schools already offering socially distanced visits or virtual tours.

MORE: Schools offering prospective parents video tours as open evenings cancelled

All applications are processed at the same time to allow schools to prioritise where necessary, but late applications will be processed after all of the ones which were submitted on time.

Parents are advised to complete an online application form but paper forms are still available.

Families who apply online will be able to log on to the Online Service on the National Offer Day, which is March 1, 2021 for secondary schools.

Parents and carers will receive an email to confirm their offer on the same day and offer letters will be sent by second class post for anyone who made a paper application.

More information can be found here

Primary school places

The deadline for parents of three and four year olds who are due to start school in 2021 need to apply by January 15, 2021.

Parents of summer born children, those with birthdays between April and August, can defer their places by a year so their children start in September 2022 but it is advised they still complete the paperwork this year to allow them to keep their options open.

Again, it is advised parents use the online form as receipt is acknowledged whereas the council do not confirm receipt of forms posted to them.

National Offer Day for primary school places is April 16, 2021.

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For more information on choosing a primary school, see here

School transport

When deciding where you child should be educated, it’s not just the school you’ll need to look at but also school transport.

Council funded transport is only available for children under eight who live more than two miles away from school, or children over eight who live more than three miles from school – however, if your child has any SEND or mobility issues they can apply for funded or subsidised travel.

Transport is only offered to the nearest school which has a space for your child. This year, due to social distancing, spare bus seats are not for sale, though usually parents and carers can apply for these.

Making the right choice

Councillor Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said: “Making the right school choice is one of the most important decisions a parent makes on behalf of their child.

“It is important that parents and carers complete and submit their application by the closing date to give their child the best chance of getting a pace at one of their preferred schools. We also recommend applying for more than one school and you can list up to three schools on the application form.

“Parents and carers also need to consider carefully how their child will travel to school before they apply for a school place.

“I would strongly recommend that you check which school is your nearest suitable school on our Nearest School Checker because this might not be your catchment area school.”

You can check if your child is within their local catchment area by using the Nearest School Checker here or look on Suffolk County Council’s website for school travel information.

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