Going to school in Lincolnshire guide

Applying for a primary school place

This guide provides supporting information when applying for a school place in Lincolnshire.

Application process

You should apply for a primary or infant school place if your child:

  • is born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020
  • is in year 2 at an infant school and requires a place in year 3 at a junior or primary school
  • is in year 2 at a primary school and requires a place in year 3 at a junior school

As the admission authority, we must provide for the admission of all children in the September following their fourth birthday. We process these applications on the basis that most children will start school at the same time.

Children can start school at any time until they reach the compulsory school age. This is the term after the child turns five. For example, a child born in November will be compulsory school age in January.

You can request:

  • to delay your child’s start date until later in the academic year but not after they reach compulsory school age
  • your child takes up their place part-time until they reach compulsory school age

If you intend to delay starting school, you should discuss it with the school. The school will not hold the place if your child does not start within that academic year. 

If you delay your child’s start until the following academic year, you will need to reapply for a place. You need to complete an in-term application during the summer term before starting school. The class may be full at this point, so any delay should be carefully considered.

Deferring admission to school is not the same as attending school out of normal school age.

By law, every child must be in education at the start of the term after their fifth birthday.

When to apply for a primary school place

The dates when you can apply for a primary school place are published on our apply for a school place page

However, we will accept applications until 12 noon on 9 February 2024. After that deadline, we cannot process any new or change any existing applications. If an application is received after this time, it will be processed after national offer day.

Other local authorities may not operate an extended deadline. If you apply to schools outside Lincolnshire, that local authority decides whether to accept a late application.

Read further information on how to apply

Applying for a secondary school place

This guide provides supporting information when applying for a school place in Lincolnshire.

Application process

You should apply for a secondary school place when your child is in year 6. Read more on applying for a place outside of age group.

There is one school in Lincolnshire that admits children from year 10 - Lincoln University Technical College (UTC). If your child is in year 9 and you would like to apply for a place at this school, you should contact UTC directly. The timescales in this guide are different for this school.

When to apply for a secondary school place

The dates when you can apply for a secondary school place are published on our apply for a school place page

However, we accept applications until 12 noon on 14 December 2023. After that deadline we cannot process any new applications or changes of applications. If an application is received after this time, it will be processed after national offer day.

Other local authorities may not operate an extended deadline. If you are applying to schools outside Lincolnshire, that local authority decides whether to accept a late application.

Grammar school tests take place in September. The results are posted before 31 October.

Secondary schools that select on aptitude

Some secondary schools admit a proportion of their intake by pupils who show an aptitude for their specialism. This will be stated in the school's oversubscription criteria. You should contact the school for details about the testing arrangements. 

You must apply for a place at these schools in the same way as any other school. If your child does not meet the threshold for selection on aptitude, they will be considered against the remaining oversubscription criteria. This is different to grammar schools. If your child does not meet the required standard at a grammar school, a place will not be offered.

How to apply

You must apply through your home local authority. You can list any schools in any local authority on the application.

You can apply online, by phone or by requesting a paper form (telephone 01522 782030). Apply using one method only.

You will receive an email if you apply online and enter a valid email address. This email will confirm your preferences and state that your application is being considered.

If you apply by phone and provide a valid email address, you will receive confirmation of your application by email.

If you cannot provide a valid email address, we will send you a confirmation letter by post. You must then verify the details and return it to us.

Co-ordinated scheme

A co-ordinated scheme details how applications will be processed. Read the admissions schemes for Lincolnshire.

Parental preference

On the application form you can list three preferred schools. You are not guaranteed a place at a preferred school. 

Consider the schools you list and how places are offered. Schools must outline in their admissions policy how they will offer places.

School offers are made in line with the school’s admission policy, which includes their oversubscription criteria. When considering applying for a place at a school, you should read their full admissions policy. These can be found on the school’s website. Oversubscription criteria are also listed in our find a school search. If you do not have access to the internet, contact us, and we will post paper copies to you.

When considering which schools to list on your application, you may wish to consider:

  • how far away you live from each school, including your nearest school. You can search for your nearest school on our school finder
  • how you would get your child to school
  • eligibility for school transport
  • the likelihood of being offered a place at the schools you list. The school’s oversubscription criteria will be used if the school is oversubscribed
  • visiting the schools or finding more information about the school’s ethos from the website
  • you are no more likely to be offered your first preference if you list one, two or three schools on your application. The schools do not see where they are listed on your application when they rank the students against the oversubscription criteria. We only use the order of preference to decide which place to offer if more than one school can offer a place
  • the type of schools available
  • places are allocated to children who express a preference for a school before other children. We will offer the nearest school to your home address that has an available place in your child's year group if none of your preferred schools can offer a place and you live in Lincolnshire
  • listing your closest school on your application 

Children with an education, health and care plan (EHCP)

There is a different procedure for children with an EHCP. If your child has an EHCP, you should speak to your child's caseworker or current school. A school admissions appeal panel cannot grant a place to a child with an EHCP.

Children with special educational needs or disabilities but do not have a care plan should apply in the usual way.

Foreign nationals

Foreign national children resident in the UK usually have the right to attend state-funded and independent schools in England. To lawfully enter the country to access a school, foreign national children resident outside the UK will normally need either:

  • a right of abode
  • an immigration status which otherwise permits them to enter the UK to study at a school

Parents of foreign national children must check that their children have a right to study at a school before applying for a place. Check UK entry conditions. It is not the role of state-funded schools or local authorities to ask for proof of eligibility before offering a place.

Read further advice from the government on school applications for foreign national children and children resident outside England.

Applications for those living oversees will be processed based on the child’s current address until the child is resident in the county.

Armed forces personnel and returning crown servants

The military covenant aims to remove any disadvantage that service personnel and crown servants’ families may face from military life.

This applies if the parent is a current serving member of the UK armed forces or is a crown servant returning from abroad.

We will co-ordinate applications if the family has either:

  • a confirmed posting order or official letter with a unit or quartering address within Lincolnshire
  • a confirmed posting order to the UK and confirmed address in Lincolnshire. They must be returning to the address before the end of October of the admitting year. The address accepted for implementing the oversubscription criteria may differ, as each school’s policy will be followed

If the move is not due to an official posting, you should apply to the child's current home local authority. To do this, you must reside in the UK.

If the move is due to an official posting, you will need to:

  • note this on your application form
  • provide evidence

Those with a posting order can usually use an intended address before moving for the school’s oversubscription criteria. You must provide some evidence of the intended address, but the policy does differ per school. A parent may request that we use a unit or quartering address as the child’s home address when we are considering the application.

Sometimes none of the schools listed on the application form can offer a place. Depending on where the accepted address on the application is:

  • address in Lincolnshire - we will offer the closest Lincolnshire school, with a place in the year group required
  • address not in Lincolnshire - no alternative school will be offered. It is for the child's home local authority to offer an alternative placement

We work not to disadvantage families of service personnel who apply after the initial allocation of places has occurred (late applicants). We will approach the schools listed on the application, if an official posting has been provided. We will ask the school whether they wish to offer a place to the child, even if the published admissions number has been met or the class is full.

Offer decisions will be made by the individual admissions authorities concerned. They will be in line with their admissions procedures for forces applicants and will be clearly communicated to parents. In all cases, if a place is refused, parents will be notified of their right of appeal.

Please contact us if you would like further information about forces moves and how applications will be considered.

Sometimes a current serving member of the armed forces without a posting order will make an application. In these cases, their current address will be used to process the application against the school’s oversubscription criteria.

Types of schools

Schools have different bodies that make decisions about a school's policy and admitting pupils. This will depend on their type of school. The responsible body is known as the admissions authority.

Community and controlled schools

We are the admission authority for these schools. We make decisions about the policy used for school admissions. These schools use the LCC admissions policies.

Academy schools

Academies receive funding directly from the government and are usually run by an academy trust. They have more control over how they do things than community schools, which are guided by the local authority. Ofsted inspects academies. They must follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools. Students sit the same exams. Academies can set their own admissions policies and term dates.

Voluntary aided schools and foundation schools

We, as the local authority, fund foundation and voluntary schools. They have more freedom to change the way they do things. Sometimes they are supported by representatives from religious groups. The admissions authority for these schools is usually the school's governing body.

Free schools

These are schools set up by non-profit agencies and set their own policies. They operate in a similar way to an academy school regarding school admissions.

Comprehensive, secondary modern and grammar schools

Schools belong to one of these four categories. Comprehensive and secondary modern schools are all ability schools. Some schools may select up to 10% of their pupils based on aptitude for their specialist subject. For entry into a grammar school, your child must meet the required standard in the 11+ selection tests. Your child must meet the required standard in the selection tests for entry into the grammar stream. In Lincolnshire, this is the 11+ exam.

Grammar schools

These are secondary schools that require children to pass a test to be admitted. There are no primary schools that are grammar schools in Lincolnshire.

You should contact the grammar school or visit the Lincolnshire grammar schools' website to find out about the 11+ testing arrangements.

When your child takes the 11+ tests, you must let the school know if they:

  • have any special educational needs
  • speak English as a second language
  • are feeling unwell

If your child reaches the required standard in the 11+, they will not automatically be offered a place. You must still name the grammar school on your application. Your application will be considered alongside other applicants in accordance with the school's oversubscription criteria.

Transferring from nursery schools

Transfer to reception will not happen automatically. You will need to apply for a place in reception. There is no guarantee that your child will be offered a place at the school where your child attends nursery.

Most schools do not consider attendance at pre-reception, nursery or attached playgroup when allocating places. If they do, it will be listed as an oversubscription criterion in their admissions policy.

Home address

Child's home address

You should apply from the address where your child lives for the majority of school term time. Children of UK service personnel and other crown servants have slightly different rules. They can use an address in advance of a move in some cases.

The school's admissions policy provides a definition of ‘home address’. This differs from school to school. You must look at this carefully if you have non-traditional living arrangements. If you need any advice, please contact us or the school.

We have a duty to prevent fraudulent applications and will always look at an address closely. This is one of the biggest factors in deciding which school is allocated. We will not accept a new address claim if it is not received by the deadline for receiving applications.

Moving address

You must inform us if you have submitted an application and your child moves address. We can only take into consideration a new address if:

  • your child will be living there by 12 noon on:
    • 9 February 2024 for a primary school application
    • 14 December 2023 for a secondary school application
  • you have notified us that you moved before the deadline
  • we have received the appropriate proof of residency

If you are new to Lincolnshire, or want to change preferred schools, you must do this by the appropriate deadlineAny applications or changes to preferences received after this deadline will be processed at a later date.

If your child moves after this deadline, but before national offer day, we will use your new address initially for correspondence purposes only. Once the offer day has passed and we have received appropriate proof, we will update your child's residence address.

We will not take into consideration an intention to move except for armed forces personnel. Please contact us to discuss what information is required.

School transport

School transport

If school transport is an important factor when choosing a school, you must read the home to school transport policy. This will help you to check if your child will be eligible. If you need further advice, please contact us.

The school transport policy and school admissions policy use different measurements to define the closest school. You should consider this when deciding in which order to list schools. It cannot be assumed that transport will be provided if you do not qualify against the policy.

A transport entitlement will be approved if you:

  • live within the boundary of the designated transport area of a school
  • choose a nearer school, but the distance between your home address and the school meets the distance criterion

The distance criteria between your home address and school are:

  • primary schools - more than two miles (3,218 metres)
  • secondary schools - more than three miles (4,827 metres)

Distances are measured by the shortest walking and driving routes. For primary schools the distances are:

  • walking is up to two miles
  • driving over two miles

For secondary schools the distances are:

  • walking up to three miles
  • driving over three miles

We do not provide transport to nursery schools or early years providers. Children become eligible for free school transport in the year in which they are five and provided they meet the conditions of the home to school transport policy.

If you are on low income or in receipt of certain benefits we may provide school transport to a secondary school. To quality your child must:

  • attend one of their three nearest suitable secondary schools
  • live between two and six miles from the school, measured by the shortest driving distance

Children from low-income families may also receive transport to the nearest secondary faith school chosen on the grounds of religion or belief. To qualify the child must:

  • attend their nearest relevant school
  • live more than two but not more than fifteen miles from the school, measured by the shortest driving distance

Oversubscription criteria

Schools have different oversubscription criteria. Some may need additional information to consider your application correctly. They will usually have a supplementary information form (SIF) if they need to collect more information.

Looked after and previously looked after children

All schools prioritise looked after or previously looked after children. If your child is looked after or previously looked after by the local authority, you must indicate this on your application form. We may need further evidence. This criterion does include those adopted from state care outside of England.

Medical and social reasons

Some schools consider medical or social reasons to attend a school. If you wish to apply under these grounds, you must state this on your application. Please see the school’s full admissions policy or contact the relevant school for further information. You may need to complete a supplementary form.

Siblings

The majority of schools choose to give priority to children who have a sibling connection with their school. A sibling is usually a brother or sister; however, schools have their own definition. A school's admission policy will define if this means full, half, or step-siblings.

A school will also state if the sibling:

  • must be attending the school when the child is due to start, or
  • only needs to be attending at the time you apply

Some schools also give priority to children who previously had siblings attending their school.

If you are applying because your child has a sibling attending a school, you need to indicate this. Include the name of the sibling on the application form.

Religion

Some schools give priority in their oversubscription criteria based on faith. If they do, it is stated in their oversubscription criteria. When applying to a school on faith grounds, you must say this on your application. You may need to complete an additional form, which you must obtain from the school.

Distance

Most schools have an element of distance within their oversubscription criteria. If you have non-traditional living arrangements, you may wish to contact us for advice before making your application. We may need evidence that your child lives at a particular address or how residency is split if the child resides between two or more homes.

To calculate distance, we use an electronic measuring system. We measure in most cases from the post office address point of your home to the post office address point of the school. These are not the same as postcodes and are individual to each property. Distance is measured in a straight line for most schools and calculated to three decimal places, for example, 1.256 miles.

The oversubscription criteria of a school’s admissions policy will state what measurements they use. Gainsborough Queen Elizabeth High School in Lincolnshire is the only school to use an alternative method to measure distance.

Designated transport area

Lincolnshire has been divided into designated transport areas (DTA). Some schools choose to give priority in their oversubscription criteria to children who live within their DTA. To find your DTA school, contact us on 01522 782020 or email schooltransportapplications@lincolnshire.gov.uk.

Nearest school

Some schools prioritise children where a school is the closest to their home address. You do not need to send supporting evidence of this. To find which school is closest to your home address, you can use the search tool find my nearest school or contact us.

Other reasons

If you have other supporting reasons, email us or send a supporting letter. For example, the child is of a staff member and the school's policy takes this into account.

Linked infant and junior schools

Some junior schools prioritise children with a sibling at a linked infant school. This will be stated in the oversubscription criteria in the school's admissions policy.

For a sibling to be taken into account when considering the application, you must name the sibling on your application.

Children usually transfer to these junior schools when they attend a particular infant school. Transfer is not automatic; you must still apply.

Infant school Junior school
Branston Infant School Branston Junior Academy
Gainsborough Hillcrest Academy Gainsborough White's Wood Academy
Holton-le-Clay Infants School Holton-le-Clay Junior School
Lincoln Bracebridge Infants Lincoln Manor Leas Junior Academy
Lincoln Manor Leas Infants Lincoln Manor Leas Junior Academy
Lincoln Mount Street Academy Lincoln Westgate Academy
Lincoln St Faith's Infants Lincoln St Faith and St Martin Junior
Lincoln St Peter in Eastgate Infants Lincoln Westgate Academy
Lincoln The Lancaster School Lincoln Birchwood Junior
Lincoln Woodlands Infants Lincoln Birchwood Junior
Louth Eastfields Infants Louch Lacey Gardens Junior
Marshchapel Infant School Grainthorpe Junior School
Nettleham Infant School Nettleham Junior School
Skegness Infant Academy Skegness Junior Academy

Transferring schools

In-year applications

If you want to move your child to another school, you must submit an in-year application. In-year applications can be made online, or you can request a paper application by contacting us. You can apply for any school in Lincolnshire on this form except the University Technical College (UTC). To apply for a place at UTC, you must contact UTC directly.

Schools typically only hold places six school weeks in advance of a place being required.

Read more information on how to apply to move school.

For primary schools, if your current school is further than five miles from your home address, we will find a school place if none of your preferred schools can offer one. 

For secondary schools, we will find a school place if none of your preferred schools can offer a place if your current school:

  • is further than 10 miles from your home address
  • is not one of the three closest schools to your home address (excluding grammar schools)
  • was not allocated in the main admissions round as the closest school to home and is within 15 miles of your home address

Where we find a school place for you, it will be the closest school to the home address with spaces available. We use the fair access protocol if no school can offer a place.

Headteachers must not ask a pupil to find a new school to avoid permanent exclusion. If this is the reason for your in-year application, email midyearadmissions@lincolnshire.gov.uk or phone 01522 782030. 

Admission of children outside age group

You may seek a place for your child outside their normal age group, for example:

  • if your child is gifted and talented
  • your child has experienced problems such as ill health

To make a request, you should contact us for guidance on the procedure.

The school admission authority decides which year group a child should be admitted to. The decision will be based on:

  • the circumstances of the case
  • the best interests of the child concerned

There is no statutory barrier to admitting children outside their normal age group. Parents do not have the right to insist that their child be admitted outside of their age group.

The admissions authority must take account of:

  • parent and carer views
  • available information about the child's academic, social and emotional development
  • where relevant, their medical history and the views of a medical professional
  • whether the child has previously been educated out of their normal age group
  • evidence that the child may naturally have fallen into a lower age group if it were not for being born prematurely
  • the views of the headteacher
  • what the impact would be of entering year 1 without first having completed reception year (where relevant)

You may wish to contact the schools to which you would like to request an out-of-cohort place before applying. Headteachers at these schools are advised not to offer a letter of support regarding a particular applicant unless they know the child in an educational setting. Their opinion will be sought as part of the request process as outlined in the School Admissions Code (2021). The headteacher does not make decisions on these requests.

If you need further information, please email outofcohortadmissions@lincolnshire.gov.uk or phone 01522 782030.

School offers, revised applications and appeals

School offers

You will receive your school offer via email if you applied online. If you applied by paper form or telephone, we will write to you.

We will notify you of the outcome on the dates published on our school offer page.

If none of your preferred schools can offer a place and you live in Lincolnshire, we will offer the nearest school to your home address with an available place in your child's year group.

If we cannot offer your child a school and you do not live in Lincolnshire, your home local authority will be responsible for offering your child a place at an alternative school.

Reserve lists

If you are refused a place for intake admissions at a Lincolnshire school, your child is automatically put on the reserve list. This is unless you have been offered a higher preference. For example, if your second preference is offered, your child will be on the reserve list for your first preference school.

We will notify you if a place becomes available for your child from a school's reserve list. Schools must keep a reserve list until the end of the autumn term; some may keep it longer. You should contact the school for further details or look in their admissions policy.

Children who did not qualify for admission to a grammar school cannot be added to that school's reserve list unless deemed qualified at appeal.

Revised applications

If you wish to change your application, you can submit a revised application to amend your preferences. You can only make a revised application after receiving an offer of a school place. We must receive your revised application for:

  • primary schools by 17 May 2024
  • secondary schools by 25 March 2024

We will inform you of the outcome for:

  • primary school's week commencing 27 May 2024
  • secondary school's week commencing 3 April 2024

Revised applications received after this deadline will be processed at a later date.

You need to name any schools you wish to be considered for on the revised application. For the schools that could not offer a place, your child will not remain on the reserve list unless you list them again on your new revised application. If a place can be offered at a school named on your revised application, your previous offer will be withdrawn.

Withdrawal of an offer

Once we have made an offer, we can consider withdrawing the place in the following cases:

  • where a fraudulent or intentionally misleading application has been made to obtain a place at an oversubscribed school
  • where you do not respond to our offer or any of our follow-up letter
  • where an error has been made

If an offer is withdrawn, we will notify you of your right of appeal.

Appeals

You have the right to appeal if a school you have named on your application has refused a place. Information on how to appeal a school place decision is available on our website and will be provided when you receive your offer of a school place. All admission authorities must post their appeals timetable on their website by 28 February each year.

An appeals panel is made up of three volunteers who are independent of the school and local authority. This panel will decide whether:

  • the school’s admissions policy is lawful and has been correctly applied
  • the school would be negatively affected by having an additional student in the year group

If they believe there would be a negative impact, they will then consider the effect on the school and your child. They will then decide which would have the greater impact.

The panel's decision is binding and can only be overturned in a court of law. If unsuccessful, you can only appeal again for the same school for the same academic year if there has been a significant change in relevant circumstances, for example, if you have moved address.

If you are appealing for a place in reception, year 1 or year 2 and the school is organized in classes of 30 with a single teacher, you should read the advice we send very carefully. There are very limited reasons why such an appeal can be successful, and we have a duty to inform you of this.

Free school meals

School meals contribute to the development of good food habits. Eating a healthy balanced diet has proven benefits for health and concentration. School meals can have significant benefits both for individual children and for the broader life of the school.

The correct balance of food groups in the mandatory school food standards is intended to:

  • help healthy eating habits
  • ensure that children get the energy and nutrition they need across the whole school day

It is also very important for food to look good, taste delicious and be served in a pleasant environment.

Read more about the school food standards on the government's website. Please contact your child's school for information on menus, school catering and how to order meals.

You can apply for free school meals or contact your child's school for further information.

All children in reception to year 2 receive a universal free school meal. Free milk is provided in our nursery schools and nursery classes.

If your child is eligible and registered for a free school meal, their school receives a pupil premium funding allocation. This is set by the government and can be spent on additional resources to help support your child.

Attendance and complaints

School attendance

Attendance at school is vital to your child achieving good outcomes. Absence during term time is not expected unless your child is ill. Other absences during term time would need to be proven as an exceptional circumstance, including holidays. There is further information on school attendance on our website, or you can contact your child's school.

Complaints procedures

All school staff are required to give their pupils the best possible education. They must care properly for their health, safety and welfare at all times. If you have concerns or want to make a comment or complaint, you should talk to the headteacher in the first instance.

Our comments and feedback page gives further information on complaints and comments. If the school is an academy, you should speak directly to the school.