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A parents guide to school admission appeals

Waiting Lists

This guidance applies to community and voluntary controlled schools in Wiltshire.

Academies, voluntary aided and foundation schools have their own waiting list arrangements, so if the school you are applying for fits one of those categories please contact the school regarding waiting lists.

Whenever a child is refused admission to a community or voluntary controlled school in Wiltshire, his or her name is automatically added to a waiting list. This means that, for any year group of a school that is oversubscribed, there will be a waiting list.

Where the application was made for admission in the school year 2024-2025 waiting lists will close on the last day of summer term 2025. Parents may submit a fresh application for the next academic year group which will be considered from 31 May 2025 onwards.

The government's  school admissions code requires that positions on a waiting list must follow the same order as the local authority's published admission criteria. For community and voluntary controlled schools in Wiltshire these criteria are:

  1. Looked After Children / Previously Looked After Children;
  2. Vulnerable children (i.e. children of registered asylum seekers or children with severe medical conditions);
  3. For junior schools only, children currently attending the linked infant's school;
  4. Children who live in the school's designated area who have a sibling already at the school;
  5. Other children who live in the school's designated area;
  6. Children from outside the school's designated area who have a sibling already at the school;
  7. Children of members of staff of the preferred school;
  8. Other children to whom none of the above apply.

The straight-line distance from the home address to the school is used as a tie- breaker within each of the above criteria with the nearest children accorded the highest priority.

The Code of Practice goes on to state the waiting lists should not give any priority based simply on the date a child's name was added to the waiting list. It is possible therefore that over time a child's position on a waiting list can change. There are two reasons for this.

  • A waiting list can be lengthened. This happens when any future applications for new pupils are refused. It is important to understand that these pupils are not added to the end of the waiting list but inserted in accordance with their criterion for admission and distance of the home address from the school. Thus a new application for a child with a higher priority for admission than any of the children already on the waiting list would force all those other children down by one position each.
  • A waiting list can be shortened. This would happen if any places were freed at the preferred school. Any freed place would be offered to the child at the top of the waiting list. If the place is accepted, then all the other children on the waiting list would go up by one position. If the place were declined, then the child in top position would be removed from the waiting list and the child in next position offered the place.

The position of a child on a waiting list can also change as the result of a change of address. It should be noted, however, that the change in position takes effect only when definite evidence of the house move has been received by the local authority.

The local authority will accept the following as evidence of a future house move:

  • a solicitor's letter which confirms that an exchange of contracts has been made;
  • a tenancy agreement of at least six months' duration; or
  • a letter from the Defence Housing Association that confirms a service family's new address.

Parents or guardians must notify the local authority of any material changes in their circumstances, such as an intended house move, as this may affect their child's position on the waiting list.

Parents or guardians can ask for their children to be removed from the waiting list at any time.

The operation of a waiting list does not affect the parent or guardian's right of appeal for the child. The appeal process offers a separate course of action that parents and guardians can undertake. Neither lodging nor withdrawing an appeal changes the child's position on the waiting list. Equally the child's position on a waiting list does not affect the outcome of an appeal.

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