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Didn’t Get The Primary School You Wanted? Don’t Panic Just Yet!


It’s that time of year.  Parents of children set to begin Primary School this September have been informed which school their child has been allocated.  Many won’t get the 1st choice on their list unless they fit the main criteria which will include location, whether they have siblings and in some cases whether they are Catholic.  It gets harder yearly with the population continuously growing in cities but provisions in regards to schools and hospitals not being adjusted to allow for this.

Not happy with the school your child has been allocated?  Don’t fret. There are still options available to you.

Get on the Waiting List

The first thing you need to do is to get onto the waiting list.  Fortunately, this is automatic for all which makes it easy. We were allocated our second choice so have been added to the waiting list for our first.  Your child will not be on the waiting list for any schools lower than the allocated school.

Next, keep an eye on your position on the list.  The position will not be available just yet as parents still have until the 30th of April to accept places they have been offered.  After this, the local councils will have their hands full for a short time after with concerned parents checking to see how high or low they are on the list.  A word of caution, avoid phoning too regularly as you don’t want to annoy these guys for obvious reasons.  Waiting list positions will change.  It is important to remember that waiting list places are not guaranteed.  For example, if someone else applies that has a sibling already attending the school or lives closer they will automatically take a space above yours.


On National Offer Day which fell on the 16th of April this year, emails and letters were sent out to anxious parents.  Within the letter is information about appeals.  On reading this it seems that it is very unlikely that an appeal will be successful.  But, if you don’t try you haven’t got a chance.  Check the catchment they have quoted that has been calculated.  For instance, if you are well within this it could subsequently provide a foot in the door.

Consider Local Schools with Places

On the letter that you will have received is a list of local schools that had places available on National Offer Day.  Check their location and do research into the school.  After that, if you find a school you are happy with then contact the local council and get your child allocated a slot before they fill up.

Still No Luck?

Reconsider the school options.  Look again and see if there are any others that would suit that you didn’t apply to.  The option here is an in-year admission.  The application is made directly with the relevant council.  Applicants are placed on a waiting list and will be offered a place depending on location, siblings etc.

Go Private

If you can afford to, go private.  Private schools are generally 3-4 months ahead in terms of teaching so this could give an academically inclined child a better start.  Don’t get me wrong, many state schools are good but most are further behind in teaching than private schools.

Home School

Not for everyone I know.  I did briefly consider this when we first applied for a Primary school for my eldest and had a nightmare of a time trying to get her into a decent school.  This idea was short-lived however thanks to her younger sister.

In Conclusion

There is still a chance for children to be allocated spaces in the school that you are after.  It’s now just a matter of time before we can take further action.  You may still get a place in the school you want after the 30th of April.

Good luck!

Do you have any suggestions for parents that haven’t been allocated a school they are happy with for their children?



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This Post Has 42 Comments

  1. Primary school allocation brings back terrible memories of my daughter not getting any of her 3 choices. It was a horrendous time but incidentally worked out for the best in the end! If children want to learn, they will learn anyway! Some great tips though, I know a lot of people worry about what to do if they don’t get their choice and this post will certainly help! Sim x

    1. Thanks for your comment Sim. It can be a nightmare especially when you have more than one child and different schools to get too.

  2. it is a scary prospect but i guess we just hope for the school closest to us but i dont know how likely that is

    1. I’m surprised how many didn’t get the closest this year.

  3. It can be heartbreaking when you don’t get the placement that you hoped for, but this is great advice for anyone who finds themselves in this situation

    1. Thanks for your comment Sarah. It can be a very stressful time for parents.

  4. Last year, my little one didn’t get our first choice reception place. Unfortunately attending the attached Nursery has no benefit in terms of admittance. He did however get into his second choice school and that has turned out wonderfully. Children adapt often better than we do – he adores the school he is at now.

    1. I’m glad it worked out for you Claire. It can be upsetting when you don’t get a good school. Sounds like you were lucky in the end.

  5. These are some really good tips. I’ve never actually dealt with school admissions as we had my eldest at home until he was 7 and now he goes to an alternative school but I know these things can be a nightmare to sort out so this is all super useful

    Laura x

    1. It can be very stressful. I have heard of people being given a school place quite a distance from their home.

  6. My sister didn’t get her son into her first choice of primary school a few years ago. She appealed and luckiely, they agreed to let him attend

    1. That is lucky, It’s heartbreaking when you really want a school but get sent to one you really don’t want.

  7. My sister didn’t get her son into her first choice of primary school a few years ago. She appealed and luckiely, they agreed to let him attend

    1. That’s really lucky. Many don’t get anywhere through the appeals system.

  8. Its such a stressful time for parents and I remember that time so well with my eldest daughter. I’m not looking forward to going through it again for secondary school!

    1. It really is. There is a shortage of good schools to allow for the population.

  9. I think it’s important to bear in mind, that no matter where your child goes to school, school ratings aren’t the be-all and end-all. Top schools can have their downfalls, just as how some badly performing schools might perform better in certain areas 🙂

    1. I agree although on the other hand you also want one near enough to get too especially when juggling a few school drop-offs. Lots of parents seem to be stressed over the choices they’ve been given from what I’ve seen.

  10. I remember this time last year I was really worried about the school my twins would get into. Luckily they got into the first choice.

    1. That’s great to hear. Bet you were relieved!

  11. We have to apply for schools but it is something we will have to consider soon as my daughter has just turned two. Nice to see there are options available if you do not get your first choice. I was lucky with my schooling as I have a medical condition which meant I had more of a chance of getting first choice

    1. That would have taken you to the top of the list. I hope you are lucky when you come to apply for your daughter.

  12. My heart goes out to all those that didn’t get their first choice. It’s such a nervous time waiting for the confirmation.

    1. It really is. Now we’re onto round 2. More stress to add for those still waiting for another school.

  13. I’ve always just filled the forms in with the one school I wanted rather than adding a second and third choice. That way, we’ve always got the one we wanted 🙂

    Louise x

    1. That’s lucky. It doesn’t always work like that especially when the school is oversubscribed and there are others that live closer.

  14. We were sad when my nephew didn’t get the school which was a mere 5 minutes walk from home instead was given 30 minutes drive away, though our appeal didn’t work he loves his school.

    1. Wow, that’s really far. I’m glad he’s enjoying the school at least.

  15. It can be a nightmare can’t it . My two eldest daughters got their first choices when they started which was a relief

    1. That’s great to hear Kira. I am hoping we get into our first choice eventually.

  16. It is such a disappointment not getting your school choices. I am waiting Isaac’s appeal for his secondary applications

    1. I hope you get the school you want Kara x

  17. Yep this can be a super stressful time for parents, but you have provided a really valuable insight xx

    1. It can be a nightmare for some. I am hoping this might help those that didn’t get into their first choice.

  18. Thankfully we got into our first choice but I’ve heard a few people didn’t get any of their 3 choices. I’m not sure I could homeschool but one of my sons swimming friends is going to be homeschooled

    1. That’s really lucky, congratulations!!! Homeschooling seems to be on the rise.

  19. It can be such a worrying time, I moved house and my son needed to move school. I didn’t get the school I wanted and thought he was going to get. I didn’t realise how it worked at the time either. We accepted a space the one we were given and then out of nowhere space came up at the school we really wanted. I was over the moon!

    1. I’m really pleased you got into the school in the end. I hope we manage to aswell. Fingers crossed.

  20. That’s some really great advise there. We’ve not had this thankfully but I do know many who have

    1. You are very lucky. It’s getting worse each year.

  21. This is such a great post and I know it will definitely come in handy for lots now that school applications are out! We were quite lucky and got our first choice for both my little ones but I have friends who didn’t and I saw first hand how stressful it was for them. We had already decided that if we didn’t get our first choices we would home school whilst appealing/applying during the school year! Good luck to all of those with little ones starting school this year! xx

    1. Glad to hear you got both in. I did briefly consider home schooling. Not sure I could manage it.

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