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Admissions rules - how places are offered in East Sussex schools

There is no right to choose a child’s school but you do have the right to state a preference for up to three different schools.

In general, if a school has enough places for everyone who has applied, then all children will be allocated a place.

We will not overcrowd a school if there are vacancies at other schools and we will not create additional places unless there is a shortage of school places to meet a local need.

If a school receives more applications than places available, the school will apply their admissions policy to decide which children will be offered places. If it is not possible to meet any of your preferences, your child will be allocated a place at the nearest school to your home with a place available. This may be some distance away.

It is therefore essential that you take a look at the admissions criteria for the schools you prefer as it will help you assess how likely it is that your child will get a place. You can find the local authority’s admissions criteria on our guidance pages. For own admission authority schools you will find each school’s admissions criteria on their webpage or you can contact the school and ask for a copy.

You can find out why it’s important to list different schools on your application and how school places are allocated in the Apply for a school place 2023 to 2024. See The allocation procedure for more information.

When schools are oversubscribed, the published admissions criteria are applied to decide which children will be allocated places.

Given this, you need to bear in mind that for local authority controlled schools, these do not take account of:

  • attendance at a particular school, pre-school or nursery setting other than for linked infant and junior schools
  • any connection you or your family may have had with a school
  • your working or child care and travel arrangements
  • any reference to a child’s ability or particular aptitude.
  • any educational or social need the child may have unless they have an Education, Health and Care Plan naming a school
  • the relative performance of schools.

Always check the school’s admissions policy to confirm what rules they have in place.

Each East Sussex address will fall into an area served by a certain school or set of schools.

Often, the closer you live to your preferred school, the better your chances of getting a place. However, living in a community area (or catchment area) does not guarantee a place at a particular school.

Sometimes your community area school may not be your nearest school.

Some own admission authority schools do not use areas to decide applications. Please check the school’s admissions criteria if you are in any doubt.

See Primary community areas searchable map and Secondary community areas searchable map.

If you are unclear which area your address falls into, please contact the Admissions Team.

You must state your child’s home address that is their only or main residence. This should not be an address at which he or she might sometimes stay or sleep. 

This should be the address where the child is living at the closing date for applications as part of the normal admissions rounds.

If your child regularly stays with another parent or relative, they have more than one address. The school place will be allocated based on the address at which your child spends the majority of weekday nights during term time. This is the address that you should use on your application.

If you give two addresses, we will decide which address should be used as the main residence. This is to process your application, as we only accept one current address. We may ask for evidence to confirm the address given.

If you have any questions, speak to the Admissions and Transport team before making your application.

If you want your child to attend the same school as their sibling, you must name that school as one of your preferences.

When you apply, you must tell us about any brothers or sisters who will be still be attending the school at the point this child is due to start. Give us their full name and date of birth.

If you don't tell us about siblings we can only consider the information you provided. Please bear in mind a sibling connection does not guarantee a place. 

This is especially important if you do not live in the community area served by the school.

For local authority controlled schools the Council considers children to be ‘siblings’ if they are:

  • full
  • half
  • adoptive or
  • foster brother or sister

who live in the same household. This includes siblings attending sixth forms.

We do not include step-children for the purposes of school admissions i.e. two families coming together.

Other schools may have a different definition.

Out of area siblings

The Council’s admissions criteria gives priority to children living in a community area above siblings who live outside the area served by the school. This began in September 2017.

You can still apply for and get schools outside your community area. But there is no guarantee that younger children in your family will be able to follow their brother or sister.

You will therefore need to consider the possibility that your children may end up at different schools if you send your child to a non-local school.

Please make sure you have read and understand the admissions criteria for your preferred schools before applying.

Infant class sizes are limited by law to 30 pupils with a single school teacher.

More information about infant class sizes can be found in the school appeal guidance document. This is on the Detailed guidance on school admission appeals page.

Community and Voluntary Controlled (LA) schools

See criteria for Community and Voluntary Controlled (LA) schools.

Other types of school

See final arrangements for 2023 to 2024.

There has been a change in criteria for community and voluntary controlled schools in East Sussex. This is for children joining in September 2024.

See final arrangements for 2024 to 2025.

The admissions criteria recognises links between certain infant and junior schools.

You will still need to make an on-time application and there is no guarantee a place will be available.

The linked schools are listed below:

  • Dudley Infant Academy - All Saints CE Junior Academy
  • Motcombe Community & Pashley Down Infant - Ocklynge Junior School
  • Parkland Infant School - Parkland Junior School
  • Roselands Infant School - Stafford Junior School
  • St Andrew’s CE Infant School - Tollgate Community Junior School
  • West Rise Community Infant School - West Rise Junior School

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