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Starting school for the first time

Apply for a reception place 

Before you apply:

  • if you live in Dorset (not Bournemouth or Poole), and pay your Council Tax to any Dorset council, apply to us for a Dorset school reception place. You can check your local council area
  • if you live in Dorset and pay your Council Tax to any Dorset council and you want to apply for a school place in another local authority area, you still need to apply to us
  • read our parents' guide for information about the different types of schools and how to apply
  • find schools in your catchment area - you'll need your postcode
  • read the admissions policies for schools you're interested in; you can find these on a school's website
  • read the Ofsted reports for your preferred schools
  • visit your preferred schools
  • one of the 3 schools put on your application should be your catchment school
  • check Dorset's Local Offer for information on support for children with special educational needs and disabilities

You may have to complete an additional form if you want to apply to religious schools. This is an extra form and not instead of the application form.

For other year groups you should make an in year application.

Apply for a school place

List up to 3 schools in order of preference. One of these schools should be your catchment school. You'll receive a confirmation email once you've submitted your application.

Apply for a place at a junior or middle school.

Make sure you've sent any required medical or religious evidence to our schools admissions team. We can only consider your application based on the evidence you've submitted by the closing date.

If you can't apply online, fill in and return a paper application form:

Make changes to your submitted application

If you want to make changes to your submitted application, you need to complete a change of preference form:

We review applications based on the information you give in your application. This means if you change your address after 15 January, we'll process your application using the address you were living at on the closing date.

How we tell you about an offer of a school place

We send out offers for all on-time applications for a primary or infant school place by first class post in April.

We also send you an email in April if you applied online.

We send out offers for late applications for a primary or infant school place by first class post in May.

We can't:

  • tell you about an offer by phone
  • send responses to email addresses that weren't provided before the offer date
  • send information by email if you applied using a paper form
  • discuss details with anyone not specified on the application form
  • discuss available places at a school, as this changes frequently

What to do when you have a school place offer

Parents and carers must reply to school place offers by the specified date in May.

You should either:

  • decline the place offered and give us the reason why
  • ask for your child to go on a waiting list for a school that you applied for but didn't get offered a place for - you can only do this once
  • submit a change of application form if you want to change your school preference choice

Waiting lists

You can only request for your child to be added to a particular school's waiting list if you've already applied for this school and been refused a place at it.

Find out more about school waiting lists.

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