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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
  • 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 which should be sent to the schools themselves, unless stated differently, and is not instead of an application form.

The closing date for starting school applications is 15 January 2019. If you apply after this date it will be classed as late.

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, if there is one. You'll receive a confirmation email once you've submitted your application.

If you can't apply online

If you can't apply online, fill in and return a paper application form, this should be posted by the closing date, make sure you include proof of posting:

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 process 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.

Christchurch residents and Local Government Reorganisation

Christchurch residents should apply for school places through us. The applications for children transferring to secondary school will be managed by Dorset County Council.

The information you provided on your application will be used by us for the purposes of allocating you a school place. In order to ensure that all children are provided with a school place in time for September 2019, the information you provide will also be used by Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council after 1 April 2019 for this purpose.

How we tell you about an offer of a school place

We send out offers for all on-time applications for children starting school for the first time by first class post on 16 April. If you have applied online we'll also send you an email.

We will:

  • tell you about your transport entitlement by letter only, not over the phone 
  • get the information to you by email if you applied online
  • only discuss the information with the people listed on the application
  • let you know your outcome, unless your application is late 
  • send late application offers by first class post on 17 May

We can't discuss available places at school as the number changes frequently.

What to do when you have a school place offer

We automatically assume acceptance but we do ask parents and carers to respond to the school place offer by the 30 April if you wish to either:

  • decline the place offered, you must give us the reason why
  • ask for your child to go on a waiting list

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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