You’re a parent and your child is at the age where they are ready to make the big step into entering the world of school. Scary, right? It feels like it was only yesterday that they were keeping you up all night and you were going through a million nappies a day, and here they are about to take on the world!
Applying for schools can be a hectic and stressful time for parents, with so many questions in their minds - Which schools do they apply for? Did they get their first, second or third choice? How can they appeal a decision? Can applications be made in-year to change schools?
In this article, we will explain the Barnsley school admissions process and the steps that you can take to ensure that you have the best chances of your child attending a school that is right for them.
The school year following their fourth birthday is the first academic year for children to start school (Reception).
In most cases, children start school after their fourth birthday in September, however, the Compulsory School Age isn't determined until after their fifth birthday. The application process can be done online through the Barnsley Council Parent Portal quickly and easily.
On your application, you can list up to three schools, ranked in order of preference. You can either hand in your completed application to the school of your first preference, or you can mail it to School Admissions once you have filled in your form - your school should then provide you with a receipt for your application.
Children born between 1st April and 31st August are known as 'summer-born children'. In the September after their fifth birthday, summer-born kids can request to start Reception instead of going straight into Year One like their peers of the same age.
However, it is recommended that children stay in their normal age group while they are in school.
Around mid-April, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council let you know what school placement they can offer your child.
Normally, if space is available at your first choice, then your child will be offered this straight away. The school you have prioritised highest on your form will be offered to you first if there are spaces available at more than one of your preferred schools.
If this is the case, then your journey will be straightforward and will need no real input from you, other than getting school uniforms and preparing for the school-run traffic. However, if you do not get your first choice, this can take a different route and we will explain this further in the appeals area of this article.
Other than celebrating, and messaging your parent groups, in most cases, you will not be expected to take any action if you are happy with your school option. The school will inform you about your child's start date and admission arrangements if you are happy with the designated place. Schools will ask that Pupil Admissions be notified of your decision if you do not wish to claim the place at a later date.
What happens if you don’t get the result you hoped for? The Barnsley Council website has some clear guidance in the steps:
“If there are only places available at your second or third preference schools: we’ll offer your child a place at one of these schools, but place your child’s name on the waiting lists of any schools you’ve ranked higher.
If places are available at more than one of the schools you prefer: we’ll offer your child a place at the school you’ve ranked highest on your form.
If places aren’t available at any of the schools you prefer: we’ll offer your child a place at the school or academy nearest your address that has places available.”
Barnsley school admissions are also decided and guided by the legal class sizes. Legally, schools are limited to 30 children per class in Reception/Year 1/Year 2 classes. While there are some exceptions, once the class limit is reached and the class is full, it is highly unlikely your child would get a place or that appealing the decision would overturn it.
In the majority of cases, once you have sent your appeal form, the appeal hearing is in two separate parts. There will be a first part where the presenting officer has to explain why the school will not accept another child. Then in the second part, you'll be asked to tell the panel why you think your child should be admitted.
In the event your appeal is not successful, you should also accept any school placement offer you receive to ensure your child has a placement as a backup. You can still appeal even if you accept another offer and the appeal process will not limit any other options you may have.
Switching schools can be just as confusing as applying for your child’s first school. First and foremost, you must decide which school you wish to send your child to. The School Admissions Policy page will explain the various types of schools and how to determine which would be best for your child.
The best way to begin your journey is to contact the schools and arrange visits and to check with Admissions on which have available places to increase your chances of success. After you decide what school you'd like to apply to, you'll need to fill out and return an application form. Applicants who have recently moved may be asked for proof of address as part of the application process.
There may be over-subscription at some local schools. In case your child does not get into the school of your choice, it is a good idea to apply to a few schools at once so that they do not miss out on education.
We recommend getting in touch with the Admissions Team as the first port of call if you are having trouble getting your child a school place through the in-year process.
For parents and carers, understanding the Barnsley school admissions process and having the knowledge of what your options are, is vital to making the right decisions for your child and your family.
If you are looking for schools in Barnsley and want to know more about St Helen’s Catholic Primary School, take a look at our Ofsted reports, our comprehensive Admissions page, or simply contact us for information and to arrange a visit!