With less than two weeks until applications close, parents of primary school pupils are facing some big decisions.
This is everything you need to know about applying for a primary school place in the Wakefield district in 2020.
When is the deadline?
If your child was born between September 1 2015 and August 31 2016, they will be starting school in September 2020.
The application process for primary school places is now open, with a deadline of Wednesday, January 15.
For pupils moving from infant to junior school, the same deadline applies.
Parents are being urged to "Apply online, apply on time", as the council notes that last year, 94 per cent of on-time applicants were offered a place at their first preference school, compared to only 43 per cent of late applicants.
What do I need to know?
It is the responsibility of a child's parent or guardian to submit an application on their child's behalf. You may also need to reapply for a school place if your child is moving from infant to junior school, as Wakefield Council does not operate a feeder system, and these places are not confirmed.
Some schools offer priority to applicants who have a sibling at the school. Children from multiple births (e.g. twins or triplets) will automatically be offered places at the same school, even if this pushes the school over their admission number.
In their guide for parents, Wakefield Council says: "It is your responsibility to apply for a place. You should not assume that we know your child needs a school place, even if you have put your child’s name on a waiting list or you have an older child at the school.
"You must apply for a place even if your child is currently attending the nursery at the school you want them to go to, or attending the infant school linked to the junior school that you want them to go to. If you do not apply we will not be able to offer your child a school place."
Pupils will be offered a place at one school.
Which schools should I apply for?
Though parents and carers are legally entitled to express a preference for which school their children attend, they have no right to decide at which school they will be offered a place.
When choosing which five schools to prioritise, there are many things to consider. Though factors will vary between families, the council suggests that parents should consider: whether the schools is within reasonable travelling distance of your home; how the school monitors pupils' progress and how this is communicated to parents; how help and support is offered to pupils; which extra-curricular activities are available and how the school cares for pupils' welfare.
If possible, try and visit the school, or speak to other parents and carers about their experiences.
There is no guarantee that children will be offered a place at any of their preferred schools or their catchment school.
You can find out which catchment area you are in here.
How do I apply?
Applications must be done online, through the Wakefield Council website. Parents should create an account on the online applications site, and make a note of their password, which they will need to log on each time.
If you have used the system before (e.g. to apply for another child), you can log in with these details and add another child.
Once registered, you will need to select your preferred schools. You can select up to five schools, and should do this in preferred order. You will also be given a chance to explain the reasons for your preferences.
You can change these details at any time before the application is submitted. However, if you need to change any of your details (such as address or preferred schools), you will need to do this by Friday, February 14, or else your application will be considered late.
Applications must be completed by somebody with legal Parental Responsibility for the child.
If you apply for a place at a Voluntary Aided School or Voluntary Academy, you will also need to complete an additional paper Supplementary Information Form, which can be collected from and returned to the school.
What information do I need?
To apply for a place, you will need to provide the address at which the child spends the most time.
You will also need to provide your name, address (this can be different than the child's address) and contact details, as well as confirming your relationship to the child.
What if I miss the deadline?
If you miss the application deadline, you can still apply for a school place. However, late applications will only be considered once all other applications have been confirmed, which means that you are less likely to get into your preferred school.
When will I find out whether my application was successful?
Parents and guardians will find out if they have been offered a school place from 12.30am on April 16. This information will be available online, and will also be send by email and post.
The admissions team cannot give out this information over the phone.
If you are unhappy with the decision, you must appeal within 21 days of the decision. You must be able to prove that the admissions authority has not acted fairly, or that exceptional circumstances apply.
For more information, visit the Wakefield Council website and select the Guide for Parents on the right hand side.