National Offer Day: What Happens Next?

If you’ve applied for a primary or secondary place at a state school in England, here’s what to expect on the day – and what to do if you don’t get your first choice.
National Offer Day: What Happens Next?
By Carli Allan
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The anxious wait is over. It was National Offer Day for secondary schools on Monday, March 1, when all 11-year-olds across the country received their secondary school place. It is National Offer Day for primary schools on Friday, April 16. But, what happens if you don’t get the place you wanted? Here’s everything you need to know about National Offer Day.

What happens on National Offer Day?

Your local authority will notify you by email to let you know which school place you've been offered. You can also find out through the Local Authority’s (LA) online education portal. Your offer will be the highest preference school on your list that can give your child a place

If you do not receive an email on offer day, check your junk folder.

If you've been offered your first choice

Great news! Usually, you will need to complete a form to confirm that you accept the school place offered. Then simply wait for the school to be in touch with a welcome pack over the summer term.

If you’ve not been offered your first choice

Firstly, don’t panic as you have several options.

  • If your child has not been offered a place at your preferred schools, their name will automatically be placed on the waiting lists for of all schools that were ranked higher than the school offered in your application.
  • You can apply for other schools not on your original list.
  • If you’re unhappy with the offer you’ve received, you can make an appeal.

Whatever you decide, you should accept the school place that you've been offered to ensure that your child has a guaranteed school place; this will not affect your appeal. Each LA has a deadline for accepting your offer; this is typically around 10 days after National Offer Day.

If you want to be on the waiting list

Your position on this list will depend on the school admissions policy and, if a place becomes available, the child who’s first on the waiting list will be offered the place. Remember that there is often quite a bit of movement before September, so places do become available.

Priority is not given to children based on the date their application was received or their name was added to the waiting list.

You can check your child’s position on a waiting list on the LA’s education portal.

If you want to appeal

You have a legal right to appeal to any of the schools on your original application. Each LA has a deadline for submitting appeals, which is typically the end of March.

The local authority must give you at least 10 school days’ notice of the appeals hearing, and this must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal. There will be a panel of three or more people at an appeal hearing, where the local authority will explain why they turned down your application. You’ll then be given the opportunity to explain why your child should be admitted to your chosen school.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, appeals may take place by phone, video conferencing, or through a paper-based appeal where all parties can make representations in writing

If the school’s admission criteria were not properly followed and/or your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting any more children, your appeal will be upheld.

You will be notified of the appeal hearing’s decision within five days.

If you've made alternative arrangements

If you have accepted a place for your child at an independent fee-paying school, moved areas, or opted for home education, then you can decline the offer of a school place. You must inform the local authority of your decision and confirm which school your child will be going to in September.

Applying to a UK independent school? Start your search here.

If you’ve just moved to the area

If you missed the application deadline because you have only just moved to the area, your application will be considered in the second allocation round of secondary school places. This includes all children on waiting lists and new applications received between January 1 and March 15, 2021.

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