If your child has and Educational Health Care Plan the school application and placement process will be dealt with by the Special Education Needs Team for your area

Most children with an EHCP can, with appropriate support, have their needs met in any local school. Occasionally, a child's needs are such that they can only be met at a particular school. This may, for example, be a school which has been adapted to cater for children with mobility problems. In these circumstances it is the Local Authority's responsibility to offer your child a place in a school that is best able to meet their needs. This school will be named in your child's EHCP and your child would be given priority when allocating places.

If you need further information about the school named in your child's EHCP you can contact the EHCP Co-ordinator for your area by visiting SEND Information Hub.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information, Advice and Support Service (formerly known as Cumbria Information, Advice and Support Services) offers up to date information, impartial advice and practical support to parents/carers of children with special educational needs or severe medical conditions (disabilities), which affect the way their child can access education.

Westmorland and Furness Council operates a Fair Access Protocol. Each Local Authority must have a Fair Access Protocol, agreed with the majority of schools in its area to ensure that - outside the normal admissions round - unplaced children, especially the most vulnerable, are offered a place at a suitable school as quickly as possible.

In agreeing a protocol, the Local Authority must make sure that no school - including those with available places - is asked to take a disproportionate number of children who have been excluded from other schools, or who have challenging behaviour. The protocol must include how the Local Authority will use provision to ensure that the needs of pupils who are not ready for mainstream schooling are met.

If you think that your child might be eligible for free school meals or a school uniform grant you can get further information on the Westmorland and Furness free school meals web pages or by contacting: 0300 373 3300.

If I only put down one preference, will I be automatically allocated a place at that school?

No. In fact, you could disadvantage yourself by not using all of your preferences. Naming three schools that you would like your child to attend gives you more chance of getting a school that you have chosen yourself. If you name only one school and we cannot offer your child a place there, we will look at the nearest school to your home address with a place available, which might not necessarily be near to where you live. We would also only look at places that are available when all places have been allocated based on parental preference.

If I name the same school for all of my three preferences, will I have more chance of being allocated a place at this school?

No, this is the same as naming only one school. You can only considered for a school once - if you can be offered a place, you will be; if not, you will be refused a place and be given the right to appeal.

Do schools only consider children whose parents have named them as first preference?

No. Schools do not know whether they have been named as first, second or third preference on any application. We operate an equal preference scheme, meaning that each of your preferences are considered as if they were a separate application. We look at whether you can be offered a place at each of the schools you name. If the school is undersubscribed, we can offer a place. If it is oversubscribed, we will apply the school's oversubscription criteria to determine whether you have a high enough priority to be offered a place. If we can offer you a place at two or more of your preferences, you will always be offered a place at the school you ranked highest.

If I think that my preferred school will be oversubscribed, is there any point in applying for a place there?

If your preferred school was oversubscribed in previous years, that is not necessarily going to be the case this year, as demand changes from year to year. You should name as preferences the schools you would like your child to attend, in the order in which you want them to be considered. However, if your first preference school is very popular and you do not have a high priority for a place there, according to the school's oversubscription criteria, it might be worth naming other schools that you might like your child to attend for which you have a higher priority, either because you live in that school's catchment area or have other children already in the school. You can look at a school's admissions policy (which includes their oversubscription criteria) at the school's website or in the parental information booklets from the School Admissions and Appeals Team which are made available for reference at local schools and libraries. You can also contact School Admissions for more information regarding your catchment area school.

Am I guaranteed a place at my catchment/nearest school even if I don't name it as a preference?

No. You must name a school as a preference in order to be considered for a place there. If you do not name your nearest or catchment school as a preference and it is oversubscribed as a result of those parents that have named it as a preference, there will be no places left to offer your child if we are not able to offer you a place at any of your preferred schools.

Does attendance at a nursery attached to a particular school give my child a higher priority for a place in a Reception class at the same school?

Attendance at a school's nursery is not a factor in allocating places at community and voluntary controlled schools, for which the Local Authority is the admissions authority. In the case of schools which are their own admissions authority, such as voluntary aided, foundation or free schools and academies, you should look at the schools' oversubscription criteria to find out if this a factor.

Does attendance at an infant school give my child a higher priority for a place at an associated junior school?

As with attending a nursery, attending an infant school is not a factor in allocating places at its associated junior school in the case of community and voluntary controlled schools. With schools that are their own admissions authority, you should look at the schools' oversubscription criteria to find out if this a factor.

Does applying earlier give me a better chance of getting a place at my preferred schools?

No. All applications are treated equally, regardless of when they are received, as long they are received by the deadline date for applications. For transfer to secondary school in September, the deadline date is 31 October and, for starting school and transfer to junior school in September, the deadline is 15 January.

You can find further information regarding the September main intake process in the following booklets, as relevant:

Starting School in Cumbria (PDF 7.6MB)

Transfer from infant to junior school in Cumbria (PDF 3.9MB)

Transfer to secondary school in Cumbria (PDF 5.9MB)

Each of these booklets contains information about how to apply and the various things you should consider when making your application. They also include information regarding schools, including their oversubscription criteria. Copies of these booklets are available for reference in local schools and libraries.

Contact the School Admissions and Appeals Team at school.admissions@westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk