IF you haven't already decided, the deadline for primary school applications is today, Wednesday.

That means parents or carers of children born between September 1, 2015 and August, 31 2016 must apply for a school place for their child through their local council.

However as the deadline approaches, The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said that the lack of a clear system for awarding places means that parents have to hope they 'get lucky'.

It is calling for the Government to create a national strategy to guarantee there are enough school places for England's school children.

Under the current system, parents list up to six preferences on an application form, which is submitted to the local council.

But there are concerns in some quarters that while local authorities are responsible for ensuring there are enough state school places in their area, many of their powers to create new schools and direct those not under their control to expand have been curtailed.

England's school system has been put under pressure in recent years due to a rise in the school-age population.

This has been fuelled by a rise in the birth rate in the early 2000s that has now made its way through primary schools and is moving into secondaries.

Department for Education (DfE) statistics show that in 2019, 90.6% of children got offered a place at their first choice of primary school.

The DfE has previously said it is creating more school places, in part through its free schools programme, and especially in areas that need them most.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: "Choosing a primary school for your child can be a difficult decision but it has been made easier for parents who are now significantly more likely to have a good or outstanding school on their doorstep than they were 10 years ago.

"We have also made sure that the supply of school places meets demand, meaning that last year the vast majority of parents got their first choice of primary school or another of their top three choices."

I haven't applied yet, what should I do?

Click here to fill out an application form

If your child is moving into secondary school next year, the deadline for applications is October 31.

When will I find out if my child has got their first choice place?

Whether you applied online or by post, you will find out on April 16 the result of your application.

Secondary school places will be announced on March 1.

What if I don't get my first choice for my child?

You’ll be sent a letter with the decision about your child’s school.

If your child is refused a place, you can appeal against the decision. The letter will tell you how.

You must appeal against each rejection separately. You can only appeal once against each rejection.

What about school waiting lists?

If your child has not got a place, contact your local council for schools with places.

You can also put your child’s name down on a waiting list.

The ‘admission authority’ for the school (usually the school itself or the council) must keep a waiting list open for the first term of each admission year.

Contact the school or your local authority if you want your child’s name added to a waiting list.

If your child is on a waiting list and the school offers you a place, the admission authority will send you a formal offer. You can still accept the offer even if your child has already started at another school.

How are school places decided?

All schools have admission criteria to decide which children get places. The school or local council usually set these.

Admission criteria are different for each school. For example, schools may give priority to children:

  • who have a brother or sister at the school already
  • who live close to the school
  • from a particular religion (for faith schools)
  • who do well in an entrance exam (for selective schools, for example grammar schools or stage schools)
  • who went to a particular primary school (a ‘feeder school’)
  • in care or being looked after (all schools must have this as a top priority)
  • who are eligible for the pupil premium