Starting school for the first time
Apply for a reception place to start in September 2021
You can apply for a reception place from 1 September 2020.
The closing date for applications is the 15 January 2021. If you apply after this date your application will be classed as late.
Before you apply:
- if you live in Dorset (not Bournemouth, Christchurch or Poole), and pay your Council Tax to 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 Dorset Council and you want to apply for a school place in another local authority area (including Bournemouth, Christchurch or Poole), you still need to apply to us at Dorset Council
- read our parents' guide for information about the different types of schools, the evidence we require and information you need to know before applying
- read the admissions policies for schools you're interested in; you can find these on a school's website or read our Dorset Council policies
- check Dorset's Local Offer for information on support for children with special educational needs and disabilities
Or view schools by catchment area.
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.
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.
Make sure you've sent any required medical evidence to our school’s admissions team. We can only consider your application based on the evidence you've submitted by the relevant closing date.
Apply for a school place if your child has an educational, health and care (EHC) plan
You have to apply for a school place in a different way. Find out what to do if your child has an EHC plan.
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:
You are unable to make any changes via your online account. We process applications based on the information you give in your application. This means if you change your address after 15 January 2021, 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 children starting school for the first time by email on 16 April if you applied online.
Find details of how places have been allocated for the schools that are full on our school allocations page.
- tell you about your transport entitlement by letter via email
- 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 email on 14 May 2021
We can't discuss available places at school as the number changes frequently.
Find out about school allocations.
If you apply after 15 January 2021 we will class your application as late. This means we won't consider it until after the on time round. We will tell you about your offer of a school place from 14 May 2021.
If you apply after 15 April 2021 we cannot tell you about your offer of a school place June 2021.
Apply for a reception school place in Christchurch
Go to the BCP Council webpage to apply for a reception place at a school in Christchurch if you're a BCP Council resident.
What to do when you have a school place offer
We automatically assume acceptance. If you wish to decline a school place offered or wish for your child to go on a waiting list we do ask parents and carers to respond by the 30 April for on time applications and 28 May for late applications.
You must provide us with the reason as to why you are declining the school place. 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.
Summer born children
Children usually start school in the September after they turn 4, but if your child was born between 1 April and 31 August, also known as summer-born children, you can ask to delay entry to reception for a year.
This means your child starts school the September after they turn 5. At this point they have to attend school full time, when some 4 year olds could be attending part time.
If you want to apply for a school place for the following year, you must have a discussion with all the schools you put on your school admissions form as your preferred schools. You still have to apply for a school place for the September your child turns 4, even if you want to delay entry.
If you've reached an agreement with the head teacher, complete the application for delayed entry to a reception class form for each school you're considering as a preference. You have to do this for each school you've put as a preference on your school admission form.
Read our guidance on the placement of a pupil outside their year group policy
If the school accepts your request, they will withdraw your application to start school in the September after your child's fourth birthday. You will need to make a new application for them to start in the September after their fifth birthday.
Changing your mind after 15 January
If you delay entry to reception and then decide after 15 January (closing date for the next academic year applications) that you want to be considered under summer-born protocol for the next academic year, we will withdraw the place you have. You'll then have to make a new application which we will consider in the late round. There's no guarantee that you'll be offered a place at the same school.
Changing your mind after 16 April
If you decide to delay your child's entry under the summer-born protocol after 16 April, National Offer Day for primary school, we will withdraw any place offered. You'll then have to make an application for the following year. There's no guarantee that the next offer of a place will be the same as your original offer.