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TIPS 4 - In year admissions

Information for parents and carers who need to apply for a school place during the school year.


This information is for people who are moving to Torbay or moving within Torbay and whose child is already attending school. It tells you how to apply for a school place in Torbay and provides information about schools in the area.

If you are moving out of Torbay you should contact the local authority where you will be moving to.

If you would like a place at one of the following schools, you should contact the school directly as they process their own in-year admission applications:

For all other Torbay Schools you should follow the process described in this information and apply online. Please note that some schools may be full in some year groups.

If you require further guidance you can contact us on 01803 208908 or email

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Step by step guide

Understanding how the application process works

Before you complete the application form, it is very important that you understand how the process works:

  • you use one form to apply for up to three Torbay schools in the order that you prefer them
  • if you prefer, you can complete a paper version of the form available from Student Services and return it by email

Your child will be considered separately for each school that you have listed. Using the school’s published admission criteria the admission authority decides whether or not you can be offered a place. We will not pass on the order in which you have listed your preferred schools. If your child can be offered a place at more than one school, you will be offered a place at the school listed highest on your form.

Some schools are full in some year groups and you may not be offered a place at any of your preferred schools. In these circumstances, if your child needs a school place we will offer one at the school closest to your home address with a place available.

If you are not offered a place at one of your listed schools, your child’s name can be put on a waiting list for that school if the admission authority keeps a waiting list. Torbay Council will keep a waiting list for applications to all Community and Voluntary Controlled Primary schools in the area. You will need to let us know in writing before the start of each half term if you want to continue on the waiting list. You will have the right to appeal if you are refused a place.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan we recommend that you contact the Special Needs team on 01803 208274 for further information before you complete an application form. The Special Needs team will contact your preferred school who will consider whether they would be able to support your child’s needs and whether the placement would affect other children already at the school. We will also consider whether this is a good use of the council’s resources. A school cannot
refuse a place simply because your child has special educational needs. If you are refused a place at your preferred school you have the right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

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Gathering information

You should gather as much information as possible about your preferred schools. You can do this by:

  • reading this information
  • obtaining the brochures of any other council whose schools you are interested in
  • contacting schools to see their prospectus
  • looking at schools’ websites
  • reading schools’ determined admission arrangements
  • looking at schools’ OFSTED inspection reports. You can find reports on the OFSTED website
  • visiting any school, but please make an appointment first
  • finding out which, if any, of your preferred schools give higher priority to children who follow a particular religion and which (secondary) schools require your
    child to sit a selective test. Some Torbay faith schools are Church of England and some are Roman Catholic
  • looking at our Primary and Secondary admission booklet (TIPS 8 and supplements)
  • finding out which schools have vacancies. The Student Services team will be able to offer advice about vacancies
  • thinking about how your child would get to school and whether you would be responsible for home to school transport

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Filling in the form

After you have read this booklet please apply online.

You may not be offered a place until you have confirmation of a new property purchase through a solicitor, a rental agreement or an offer of employment.

You should tell us the date from which you need the place and, if a place can be offered, this will normally be held for a month/until the next half term starts. It may not be possible to reserve places for more than a month at a time in advance of a move to the area.

You must have parental responsibility to apply for a school place for your child. If you are caring for someone else’s child it is important you state your relationship to the child on your application. If you aren’t the child’s parent and not a close relative of the child (aunt, uncle, grandparent, brother, sister or step-parent) and you don’t hold a Child Arrangement Order or Special Guardianship Order, then this may be a private fostering arrangement. The law requires you to notify us if the child you are caring for is under 16 (under 18 if disabled) and is staying with you for 28 days or longer.

If the child is in the care of another council it will be necessary to arrange a meeting before s/he is admitted to school.

You must use your home address for the application, not a business address, childminder’s address or any other address. If you are separated from your child’s other parent and your child lives partly at both addresses, the address used will normally be the one where the child lives for 80% of the week. This should be supported by a Court Order. If you have a shared care arrangement or no legal evidence, the home address will be determined by the Admission Authority.

For families of service personnel or crown servants returning from overseas, we will allocate a place in advance of your move to the area provided the application is accompanied by an official letter that declares a relocation date and a Unit postal address or quartering area address.

Please state up to three preferences on your application form. Some year groups in some schools are full so it is a good idea to put down more than one preference.

Please state if your child has a sibling already attending one of your preferred schools. The definition of ‘sibling’ varies so check the admission arrangements for the school(s) for which you are applying.

Some admission authorities may require you to complete a supplementary form before they can process your application. If this is the case, they will contact you directly. You still may not get a place if the year group is full.

Some schools prioritise children of staff in their admission criteria. If you are applying to one of these schools and one parent works at the school, you can contact the school for the relevant form. It should be returned directly to the school. You may still not get a place if the year group is full.

If you are applying for a place at a selective school, your child will be required to sit a selective test before a place can be offered. Even if your child meets the entry requirements they will not get a place if the year group is full.

If you are applying for a place for a child who is in public care/adopted from public care, or if a parent is currently serving in the UK Armed Forces and being posted to the area or is a crown servant returning from overseas, you should indicate this on the application form. This will not guarantee you a place at a particular school, but if you apply for your local school and it is full, you may be offered a place if you are at the top of the waiting list.

If you are not moving house but want to change school

If you already live in Torbay and you are applying for a school place because your child is not happy at his/her present school, we advise you not to make any quick decisions. Many children will become unsettled by a change of school environment and may suffer emotionally as well as academically. Once examination options have been selected a transfer of school should be avoided because it will be difficult to match chosen options and exam boards in alternative schools.

If you are seeking a transfer of school, you should first of all discuss the situation with your child and your child’s Headteacher or Head of Year. It may be that any perceived difficulties can be resolved and schools have a number of strategies that can be put in place to assist a child who may have difficulty settling into a school or who is experiencing problems. A change of school may only move a problem rather than resolve it. You should inform your child’s current school of your wish to change school
and the Headteacher or Head of Year may contact you directly to see if it is possible to resolve any problems, especially if they feel it would be better for your child to stay  at the present school.

If you decide to remove your child from a school before s/he can start at a new school, then her/his education becomes your responsibility. It is up to you to make the first move to apply for another school place or arrange her/his education yourself.

Fair Access Protocol

Schools must give special priority to certain groups of vulnerable children. This is governed by a Fair Access Protocol. The Protocol aims to ensure that the needs of
pupils are fully considered before admission to school and that they are admitted to school without undue delay.

Read Fair Access Protocol to find out more including which children may be considered under this protocol.

If you think your child comes under one of these categories you can tell us about this if you wish.

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The result of your application and how waiting lists work

If one of your preferred schools has a place and your child meets the admissions criteria you will be offered that place. If there is more than one applicant seeking a place the place will be offered to the child who has highest priority according to the school’s admission arrangements.

If you are moving into Torbay, or moving within Torbay and can no longer get to your child’s current school, and your preferred schools are full, we will offer you a place at the school nearest to your home address that has a place available.

Your child may be invited to the school to sit an assessment test. This will help staff at the school to ensure they can meet your child’s learning needs when they start at the school.

If you have moved into the area and your child does not have a place in a Torbay school, we will do all we can to make sure that they are admitted to a school within 20 school days of an application being made. Most children will be admitted sooner than this. Sometimes, though, a school will need to make certain preparations before they can admit a child, for example if additional support is needed. For children in years 9, 10 and 11 there will need to be time for discussion about GCSE options.

If you are transferring your child between schools within Torbay, they will normally start at the beginning of the next half-term. This is to minimise the disruption for your child and the new school, since it is best if new pupils join in one go, rather than one at a time. Also we may need to make plans to ensure that a ‘fresh start’ is going to succeed.

A child will only be offered a place at a selective school if s/he is successful in the selection tests. 

For Community and Voluntary Controlled schools, we will keep a waiting list for parents who want their child to attend a school that is currently full. Parents must confirm in writing by email to or by post by the start of each half-term that they want to continue to keep their child’s name on the waiting list. If a place becomes available it will be given to the person who has highest priority on the waiting list according to the admission criteria. Length of time on the waiting list will not be taken into consideration. Other admission authorities may choose to keep a waiting list but this is not a legal requirement.

For children of UK Service Personnel, where a child is at the top of the waiting list we will ask the school if they could admit the child even if the year group is full, as stated in Torbay’s Community Covenant.

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The appeals process

If you are refused a place at a school, you can appeal if you think you have exceptional circumstances to support your child gaining a place at your preferred school. Appeals are heard by panels of people who have not taken part in deciding how the places that have been offered were allocated. You will be invited to present your case in person and you will be allowed to bring a friend or representative to help you if you wish.

The law says that no Key Stage 1 class (infant class) should have more than 30 pupils. An appeal panel can only uphold an infant class size appeal if they are satisfied:

  1. that the admission authority’s decision to refuse the admission was one which no responsible admission authority would make in the circumstances of the case or
  2. that the child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented.

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Financial help

Home to school transport

If you choose to send your child to a particular school and you are not eligible for transport assistance, then the journey to school will be your responsibility for the whole time that your child remains at the school even if your circumstances change. Our policy on school transport is explained on the home to school transport page.

Entitlement to transport is determined according to distance from home to school, income, safety of routes and/or mobility or special educational needs issues.

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Free school meals

Visit the free school meals page to find out whether your child qualifies for free school meals and how to apply.

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How we use and handle your information

For more information on how we process your personal information and details of your child read our privacy notice.

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Appendix 1 - Maps of primary and secondary schools

Please contact us if you need this information in another format.

Contact Student Services