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TIPS 8 - Primary and secondary school admissions

Information for parents and carers who need to apply for a school place in the main admission round.

This information is to provide parents and carers of children living in Torbay who need to apply for a school place in the main admission round i.e. at the normal times when children start or move school.

Key admission information about the schools in Torbay is provided in the primary and secondary supplements that are published online each year and available in hard copy on request. The term ‘school’ is used to refer to both maintained schools and academies.

We have a coordinated scheme to ensure, as far as possible, that each child receives just one offer of a state school place. This means that parents cannot hold on to more than one school place at a time.

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 (electronic or paper) to apply for up to three state schools in any council area before the deadline date. You should complete this form even if your child has an Education, Health & Care Plan.
  • You must complete our form if you live in Torbay, even if you are applying for schools outside Torbay. Either the online form can be completed or paper forms are available from schools or by telephoning Student Services on 01803 208908.
  • If your child lives outside of Torbay you will need to apply to the council where your child lives, e.g. Devon County Council, using their application form.
  • If you are applying for a place in year 7 and you wish your child to be considered for a place at a selective school you should also complete a registration form (also available from the school) and return it to your preferred school by the September deadline. Cut off dates are published on our admissions pages. You will then be sent details about selective tests.
  • You are asked to list up to three state schools on your application form, in the order that you prefer them.
  • If any of the schools that you list are in other councils’ areas, we will pass the relevant details to those councils.
  • Your child will be considered separately for each school that you have listed. Using the school’s published admission criteria (the order in which places are allocated) 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, nor will we tell schools which other schools you have listed.
  • Before places are offered we will check whether your child can be offered a place at more than one of the schools you have listed.
  • 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. Your application will not be given priority over anyone who stated it as a second or third preference unless they have lower priority against the admission over-subscription criteria.
  • If you have applied online and have asked to be notified by email, you will receive an email on the allocation day. Otherwise we will write to you by second class post, posted on the allocation day, with the result of your application.
  • If you are not offered a place at one of your listed schools, your child’s name will be put on a waiting list for that school and you will have the right to appeal against the decision.

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Places for children with an Education, Health and Care Plan

Usually, your preferred mainstream school will be able to cater for your child’s needs. You should apply online in the same way as all other parents, either online or using a paper form.

In exceptional cases, children may need to access specialist provision at mainstream school, in a special school or at other specialist provision.

You should consider the views of professionals who work with your child, and the views of your child’s current school or nursery setting. This is often discussed at the annual review meeting.

Admissions for pupils with EHC Plans will be managed by our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) section who will follow the SEND code of practice and consult formally with the governing body of your first preference school to establish whether the school can meet your child’s needs. 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 needs.

The SEND team will write to you on or before the allocation day with your child’s amended Plan which will include the name of the school where your child has been allocated a place.

If you are unhappy about this you have the right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. You can contact the SEND team on 01803 208274 or EHCP@​

If your child is in the process of being assessed for an Education, Health & Care Plan you should apply for school places on the assumption that no Plan will be issued. If one is subsequently issued, a discussion will be held with schools as above and preferences can be adjusted through that process, as SEND staff and other professionals work with you to find the most appropriate school for your child.

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Deferred entry to primary school

Legally your child does not have to start school until the term following her/his fifth birthday. However, most children start in Reception in the September of the school year in which they are 5.

You can apply for a school place and then delay your child’s start until later in the reception year without jeopardising the offer of a place. Pupils born between 1 September and 31 December would be expected to take up their place no later than the start of the spring term. The deferred admission arrangements do not allow summer born children to keep a place until the Autumn Term in Year 1.

Admission times for summer born children
Child born Normal date of admission Deferred admission
1 September to 31 December Autumn Term Spring term
1 January to 31 March Autumn Term Spring or Summer Term
1 April to 31 August Autumn Term Spring or Summer Term

Parents with summer born children who do not want their child to start school until the autumn term following their fifth birthday will need to apply through the in year admissions process for them to be admitted into year 1 and should be aware that many schools will have no places available. If parents of these children want them to start in Reception the term after their fifth birthday, they will need agreement from the school concerned and will need to apply in the following main admission round and compete for places with other children in that cohort. Please contact the Student Services office for further advice on 01803 208908.

Parents wanting their child to start at secondary school outside their normal year group should approach their preferred school(s) directly to request this. Each admission authority will explain in their admission arrangements how they process applications for admission outside of a child’s normal year group.

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Gathering information

You should collect as much information as possible about your preferred schools, especially their admission procedures. You can do this by:

  • reading this brochure and the school supplements 
  • reading the brochures of any other council whose schools you are interested in
  • contacting schools to see their prospectus
  • looking at schools’ websites
  • reading schools’ admission policies
  • talking to staff in your child’s current setting
  • visiting schools (phone first to make an appointment) or attending school open days or evenings
  • finding out which, if any, of your preferred schools require you to complete a supplementary form and/or selective test

There are several Devon schools not far from Torbay and you can get details of these schools by contacting the Education helpline 0345 155 1019 or or visiting the Devon admissions website.

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What to do with the information

Some schools are oversubscribed: they receive more applications than they have places to offer. Before you make your list of preferred schools it is important to get a realistic idea of whether or not your child is likely to be offered a place at those schools. You can do this by:

  • carefully reading the admission criteria for each school you are interested in. This is the order in which places are allocated.
  • checking how many applications were made last year and how the places were allocated using the admission criteria.
  • for secondary transfer pupils, enter your child for a selective test if you would prefer them to attend a Torbay grammar school or the selective stream at The Spires College.
  • you could also read reports on the school by Ofsted inspectors.

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Filling in the form

Use the correct form – if you live in Torbay you must fill in our form. You must do this whether the schools you wish to apply for are in Torbay or in other areas.

If you live outside Torbay you must fill in the form issued by the council where your child lives, even if you want to apply for a Torbay school.

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Applying online

Applying online is a secure way of ensuring your application reaches us. It provides you with a record of your application and you can change the details on your application form at any point before the closing date.

For parents who live in Torbay, to apply online you need to register at Apply for a school place - Torbay Council and create a password. This takes a few minutes and can be done any time from the opening date of the application period. The system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you live outside Torbay you will need to go to the website of your home local authority.

Applying online has several advantages; it speeds up the application process, gives you peace of mind that the form is not lost in the post, allows us to check the data more easily to minimise the likelihood of errors and reduces paperwork, postage costs and the amount of time spent on data entry. You will receive an email confirmation that your application has been submitted. There is no risk that your application will get lost. You will receive notification of the school allocated on the allocation day, as long as you check the email box when you apply. If you need help completing the online application form, call our admissions helpline on 01803 208908.

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Applying on paper

If you do not want to apply online you can apply using a paper common application form. Forms are available from schools or from us. Call our admissions helpline on 01803 208908.

The following information applies whether you are applying online or on paper.

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Your child’s details


Please make sure that your child’s name is spelt correctly and in the same way as their details are held by their current setting.


You must state the address where your child lives most of the time and where they will be living on the closing date for applications. We may check our records to see if you are registered at the address that you put as your child’s address.

If we are unable to confirm the address, we or the admission authority will contact you for further documentary evidence. This is likely to include a council tax bill, utility bill or evidence of child benefit or other benefits payment. Telephone bills and bank statements are not normally admitted as sources of evidence. You must not use a business address, childminder’s address, relative’s address or any address other than your home. You should be aware that Student Services, in conjunction with our legal team, will investigate any instance where we strongly suspect that the child does not live at the home address you have stated. Other admission authorities may also do this. If a place is offered on the basis of false information, it will be withdrawn.

If you are separated from your child’s other parent and your child lives partly at your address and partly at their other parent’s address, the address used will be the one where the child lives for 80% of the school week unless a school’s admission policy states otherwise. This should be supported by a court order. If you have a genuine shared-care arrangement with your child’s other parent or have no legal evidence of another arrangement, the address of the parent who is claiming/would be eligible for child benefit for the child will be used for the purpose of the application, unless specified otherwise in an admission policy. You must put the correct child’s address on the application form. Failure to do so may result in the withdrawal of a place offered to you. The final decision will rest with the Admission Authority. For children in public care, the address will be the carer’s address.

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 your application is accompanied by an official letter that declares a relocation date and a Unit postal address or quartering area address.

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Parental responsibility

You must have parental responsibility to apply for a school place for your child. If you have shared parental responsibility you will need to agree on your preferences for school places before we are able to offer your child a school place, as we can only make one offer of a place for each child.

If you are caring for someone else’s child it is important to state your relationship to the child on your application. If you aren’t the child’s parent and are 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 and the law says you must notify the local authority if the child you are caring for is under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) and is staying with you for 28 days or longer. You can find out more on the private fostering page.

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Moving house

Even if you are expecting to move house, you should still apply by the deadline to the local authority where you will be living on the deadline date. Please call Student Services for further information on 01803 208908.

If you move after the deadline and before the allocation day, you must contact us immediately and provide evidence of your new address which will then be used as the allocation address if you move before the moving notification date for moving for that admission round (see the admissions page for details). Changes of address will need to be evidenced by a tenancy agreement, exchange of contracts or other legal evidence that you will be moving to the new address for this address to be taken into account. If your move takes you to a different area, either within or outside Torbay, you will be able to change your preferences unless otherwise stated by an admission authority.

If you move before the moving notification date, and do not tell us, and are allocated a place that you would not be entitled to because of your move, the place may be taken away.

If you move after the moving notification date and want to change your preferences as a result, this will be dealt with after the allocation day.

If you are moving into Torbay and have not applied on time to your previous local authority, your application will be treated as late.

If you anticipate moving out of Torbay at any point during the application process, please contact Student Services on 01803 208908 for further advice.

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Your list of preferences

Please list up to three state schools (which can include academies, church schools and foundation schools) in your preferred order. They can be in Torbay or other council areas. Please write the name of your first preference school (and address if it is out of Torbay and you are applying on paper) in the box marked ‘Preference 1’ and so on, up to three preferences. Please be aware that you cannot give equal preferences and you cannot state more than three preferences. You do not have to use all three preferences.

However, you are advised to do so because if we cannot meet your stated preferences we will allocate the school closest to your home address when all other preferences from other parents have been met. It is better that you make this choice. Nearly all parents who give three preferences have a place at one of their preferred schools. Applying for only one school will not improve your chances of getting a place at that school.

Some schools in Torbay have a designated area. The designated areas are shown on our admissions pages or on school websites. A designated area is a defined territory around a school where applicants have priority over those outside the area. Applicants living outside the designated area will not necessarily be unsuccessful; they just have lower priority.

If your preferences are for schools that are likely to be oversubscribed, it would be a good idea to list your designated school (or closest school if there is no designated school) as one of your preferences.

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If your child will have a brother or sister (a sibling) attending any of your preferred schools at the time of application you should complete the siblings' details box alongside the preference. Please be aware, however, that the definition of a sibling can vary from council to council and from school to school; also some schools will only consider siblings who are on roll at the time of admission (the September following application). You are therefore strongly advised to check with the council(s) or school(s) concerned.

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Supplementary forms

Selective schools

If you wish to apply for a place at a selective school you will need to complete a registration form and send it to the selective school where you would like your child to sit the selective test, by the registration deadline. This is in early September each year. Details are on our admissions pages. If you have missed this deadline, please contact the school for advice. Even if you have completed a registration form for a selective school, you will still need to submit an application form to us.

Torquay Boys’ Grammar School also has a supplementary information form for pupils eligible for pupil premium.

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Faith schools

If you wish to apply for a place at any of the following schools you will need to complete a supplementary form for your application to be considered on faith grounds (and therefore prioritised above other applications).

Your form should be returned directly to the school by the application deadline:

  • All Saints, Babbacombe Church of England Primary School
  • Galmpton Church of England Primary School
  • Priory Roman Catholic Primary School
  • Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Primary School
  • Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Primary School
  • St Margaret Clitherow Roman Catholic Primary School
  • St Marychurch Church of England Primary School
  • Torre Church of England Academy
  • St Cuthbert Mayne Joint Catholic and Church of England School

You will still need to complete an application form for us. You should complete and submit the supplementary form by the closing date. Forms can be downloaded from our admissions pages or obtained through the school.

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Torquay Academy

If you wish to apply for a place at this school’s football or performing arts academy you will need to complete a supplementary form and send it to Torquay Academy by the deadline in September. Details are on our admissions pages. If you have missed the deadline, please contact the school for advice. You will still need to submit an application form to us.

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Children of staff at the school

Where schools include this in their admission criteria and you work at the school you will need to complete form SUPP1, Children of Staff, as well as completing the common application form. You will need to pass the form to your head teacher to sign. You should complete and submit the supplementary form to us by the application deadline.

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Sending in/submitting the form

Online applications must be submitted before midnight on the closing date. After this date you will not be able to apply online. If you alter the details of your online application you must remember to re-submit it, otherwise it will not be processed.

Alternatively, you can email a form to us at phone us on 01803 208908 for further guidance.

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Late applications

If we do not receive your application by the deadline your child will not be considered for a place until after all applications received on time have been considered unless you have proof that exceptional reasons such as a very serious illness, hospitalisation or bereavement prevented the application from being made on time.

If your application form is received late, you do not have any exceptional reasons that prevented the form from being submitted on time and you have stated a preference for a selective school on your form, this may mean that your child will not be able to sit the selective test until after the allocation day. Each selective school will have its own arrangements for testing late applicants.

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Changing preferences

If you have applied online you can change your preferences easily at any time up to the closing date by logging on to the online system. Do remember to re-submit your application after making your changes. If you have applied on paper please email us at with this information.

If you change your preferences after the closing date unless there are significant and exceptional reasons such as moving house, your revised application will be treated as late and will not be considered until after all on time applications have been processed. There will be a change of preference form you can complete after National Offer Day that can be obtained from us.

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The result of your application and how waiting lists work

On the allocation day, we will send you an email with the result of your application if you applied online and ticked the email box. If you apply by using the application form please ensure that you supply us with an up-to-date email address and we will email the outcome of your application on National Offer Day. If this is not possible we will write to you by second class post on that date. The communication will tell you which school place your child has been offered. If none of your listed schools can offer a place you will be offered one at the school closest to your child’s home that has a place available. For reception children, you will be required to contact the allocated school with your acceptance by a given date. If you are offered a place and do not accept it, we will write to you giving you a deadline to accept before the place is taken away and allocated to another child. Secondary schools will contact parents of pupils allocated a place at their school directly. If you applied after the deadline your application will be dealt with in the second round of allocations wherever possible.

Waiting lists must be kept by all admission authorities until 31 December following the September start date. Some admission authorities may choose to keep a waiting list beyond this time. If you want to continue to keep your child on the waiting list after 31 December you will need to complete an In Year application ready for the new year.

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The appeals process

If you are refused a place at a preferred school, you can appeal if you think you have exceptional circumstances to support your child gaining a place there. Appeals are heard by panels of people who have not taken part in deciding how the places 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 and there are limited grounds for appeal panels to allow appeals at Key Stage 1. For further information visit the admission appeals page.

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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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Contact Student Services