School Admissions Policy

Admission Process

6.1 Parental Preference

While most parents send their child to the nearest school, they have a right to state a preference for any Pembrokeshire school.

Parents can express a preference for their chosen school; however, there is no guarantee for admission to the chosen school, even if they are living in the catchment area.

Parents, and in the case of sixth form admissions, young people, may express a preference for a school and subject to exceptions set out in legislation the admission authority must meet that preference. The exceptions include:

  • Where compliance with the preference would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources, which in essence, means that if there is insufficient capacity and resources available in the school, the place will not be provided. 
  • Where arrangements for entry to a school’s sixth form are based wholly on selection by reference to ability or aptitude and compliance with the preference would be incompatible with selection under those arrangements.
  • Where a child has been permanently excluded from two or more schools and the latest exclusion took place within the last two years.

Changes to school preferences can be made at any time up to the closing date and parents will need to do this in writing (to the Admission Team) and also submit a new application.

Any change to school preference after the closing date will be treated as a late application. If the Local Authority is unable to offer a place at the first choice then the second choice will be considered.


6.2 School Selection

Whichever school parents decide on, it is recommended that they contact, discuss and visit their school(s) of choice so that they are aware of the facilities and opportunities they are able to offer.


6.3 Applying For A School Place

All applications for school places should be made online (with the exception of applications for places in a secondary school’s sixth form, which are made directly to the school).

All applications will need to be completed and submitted by the closing date as set out in the Admission Timetable in Section 5. After the closing date, all applications received by that date will be considered.

Parents are encouraged to read the Information for Parents Handbook and must confirm parental responsibility for the child they are applying for and that they have the agreement of all other persons with parental responsibility to do so, prior to completing the online form.  It should be noted that schools are encouraged to assist parents in completing the online form in the event of being unable to access a computer at home.  In exceptional circumstances, for example, where parents do not have an email address, hard copy forms are available from the Admissions Team.

Parents are able to establish the name and location of their local school by entering their home postcode into the “Services in your Area” search facility on the Pembrokeshire County Council website. Upon choosing the actual address on the subsequent screen, a list of “Nearby Services” is displayed; pressing the “Schools” button will display a list of all catchment schools for the address in question.  Information on school catchment areas can also be obtained from the Schools and Learning section of the website and then following the Schools section. Details of all schools, in their clusters, are shown, including catchment maps.


6.4 Early Applications

Parents may apply for a place for their child in nursery at any time from birth.  Applications received in advance of the normal admission rounds (based on the child’s date of birth) will be acknowledged, held on file and processed at the appropriate time.  No priority is given to early applications.


6.5 Late Applications

Applications received after the closing date will be deemed to be late (unless there are exceptional reasons) and only considered after those received by the closing date. An exceptional reason would be any situation that prevented the family from applying on time. In these cases, the family should include supporting documents with the applications e.g. where a family moved into the Local Authority between the closing date and the offer date then evidence of the change of address would be required.


6.6 Allocating Places

The Local Authority will admit children up to the Admission Number (AN) of the preferred school. Where the final place allocated (up to the admission number) is one of a multiple birth then the Local Authority will also admit the other sibling(s).

The Admission number (AN) specifies the number of pupils who can be admitted to each year group in the school.

The AN for each school is given in Appendix A: School Admission Numbers.

The number is calculated using the Welsh Government formula - ‘Measuring the capacity of schools in Wales’. This document is available on the Welsh Government website.


6.7 Over-Subscription Criteria

Children with a statement of special educational needs naming a particular school will be admitted to that school.  Where the number of applications on behalf of other pupils is equal to or less than the number of places remaining, all applications will be agreed.

In cases where the number of applications exceeds the AN then school places will be allocated as per the following oversubscription criteria (listed in priority order):

1.     Current and former Looked After Children of authorities in Wales and England in accordance with Section 22 of the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2016.

2.     Pupils with a statement of Special Educational Needs that names the school.

3.     Exceptional medical, psychological or additional learning needs (see note a.).

4.     Pupils living in the catchment area of the school who will have a sibling of compulsory school age at the school at the time of admission (see note b.).

5.     Pupils living in the catchment area of the school who have attended a feeder school (see note c.).

6.     Pupils living in the catchment area of the school at the time of admission.

7.     Pupils living outside the catchment area of the school who will have a sibling of compulsory school age at the school at the time of admission (see note b.).

8.     Pupils living outside of the catchment area of the school who have attended a feeder school (see note c.).

9.     Pupils living outside of the catchment area of the school.

Where more than one child meets these criteria and applicants still remain then the child living nearest to the school will be admitted. All distances will be measured by the shortest walking distance (using the Council’s Geographical Information System) between the nearest available school gate and the point where the child’s home meets the public highway.

For the oversubscription categories that include a sibling criteria (categories 4 and 7), if preferences exceed places available priority will be given to those pupils who are closest in age to the younger sibling already at the school (e.g. for a primary school admission, a pupil with a sibling in year 3 would have higher priority than a pupil with a sibling in year 6; for a secondary school admission a pupil with a sibling in year 9 would have higher priority than a pupil with a sibling in year 11).

In the case of a 3-16 or 3-19 school, a pupil with a sibling in a separate phase will not meet the criteria in categories 4 and 7 by virtue of the school having separate admission numbers for primary and secondary phases (e.g. a primary aged pupil with a secondary aged sibling in the same school).



a)    Medical or Psychological Needs 

A medical or psychological need can be for either the child or their parents.  To be considered under this criterion parents must provide independent supporting evidence at the time of application which sets out why the preferred school is the most suitable school for the child and the difficulties that would be caused if the child had to attend a different school. 

Supporting evidence which would be considered appropriate would include:

i. Letter or report from one of the following registered health professionals: Specialist Consultant, Community Paediatrician, Psychologist, Educational Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist.  The letter or report must be based on the professional’s own knowledge of the child / parent’s condition and circumstances.

ii. Letter or report from a registered social work professional which must be based on their own knowledge of the child / parent’s condition and circumstances. 

No priority will be given under this criterion if the required evidence is not produced at the time of application.

Additional Learning Needs must be confirmed by the Local Authority’s Inclusion Service.

b)    Sibling

A sibling is a full, half or step brother or sister, or adopted or foster children, living in the same household at the time of admission. 

c)     Feeder School

A feeder school is a primary school within the same ‘cluster of schools’ as a secondary school.


6.8 Home Address

A pupil’s home address is a residential property that is the child’s only or main residence. Either:

6.8.1     owned by the parent(s) or the person with a defined legal parental responsibility for the child; or

6.8.2     is leased to or rented by the child’s parent(s) or the person with parental responsibility under a written rental agreement.

Where there is a shared parental responsibility for a child, and that child lives with both parents or person with a legal parental responsibility, for part of the week, then the main residence will be determined as the address where the child lives for the majority of the school week (i.e. 3 out of 5 days) or the address to which the child benefit is paid.

The LA reserves the right to request proof of address at any time during the admission process.


6.9 Moving Address

Where a family is moving and parents apply for admission to a school based on their new address the Local Authority may take steps to verify the arrangements. The Local Authority will accept either:

6.9.1     A solicitors letter stating that the contract has been exchanged and specifying a completion date;

6.9.2     A signed and dated tenancy agreement.

If proof of the new address cannot be given then the application will be based on the current address.



6.10 Admissions To Portfield Special School And School Based Learning Resource Centres (Attached Units)

Admissions to Portfield Special School and designated Learning Resource Centres attached to mainstream schools are dealt with by the Authority’s Inclusion Service on the basis of pupils’ assessed level of learning difficulties and complex needs. Parents apply in the usual way and the Admissions Service pass on the details to the Inclusion Service in cases where a record is maintained on the Local Authority’s Management Information System.


6.11 Families Of Uk Service Personnel And Other Crown Servants (including Diplomats)

Families of UK Service personnel and other Crown Servants are subject to frequent movement within the UK and from abroad, often at relatively short notice. As a result, applications for school places for the approaching school year will be considered if accompanied by an official Ministry of Defence or Foreign and Commonwealth Office letter declaring a return date. School places will then be allocated if the applicant would meet the criteria when they move to their new destination. Unit postal addresses for applications from service personnel will also be accepted, in the absence of a new postal address.


6.12 Gypsy And Traveller Children

The Council is obliged, by statute, to ensure that all children of compulsory school age receive education that is appropriate to their age, abilities and any special educational needs, and promotes high standards in the provision of education and the welfare of children. These obligations apply to all children whether or not they are permanent residents in the area. Admission applications made in respect of gypsy and traveller families will be dealt with, with a view to placing these children as quickly as possible at the nearest available and appropriate school.


6.13 Twice Excluded Pupils

If a pupil has already been permanently excluded from two or more schools then, their parent may express a preference for a school at which they wish their child to be educated, the Local Authority does not have to comply with their preference for a period of two years from the date of their latest exclusion.

This does not apply to:

  • Children with statements of SEN.
  • Children who were below compulsory school age when excluded.
  • Children who were reinstated following a permanent exclusion.
  • Children who would have been reinstated following a permanent exclusion had it been practicable to do so.
  • Looked After Children and previously Looked After Children, where the application for admission is made by or on behalf of the corporate parent.


6.14 Looked After Children

In the case of a child looked after by a Local Authority in Wales or England (as defined by Section 22 of the Children Act 1989 and Section 74 of the Social Services and Wellbeing [Wales] Act 2014), the relevant Local Authority (corporate parent) must apply and supporting evidence (a Care Order or Interim Care Order) must be provided with the application. Following consultation on the appropriateness of the named school in light of the child’s background and needs, the Council has a duty to admit the child to the school and give highest priority in the oversubscription criteria.

In the case of a child previously looked after by a Local Authority in England or Wales (as defined by the Welsh Government School Admissions Code document no. 005/2013), supporting evidence (a letter from the relevant Local Authority [former corporate parent]) must be provided with the application. Following consultation on the appropriateness of the named school in light of the child’s background and needs, the Council has a duty to give highest priority in the oversubscription criteria.

Following a consultation with the Pembrokeshire County Council Looked After Child / Care Leavers forum and subsequent endorsement by the Corporate Parenting Board, the term ‘LAC’ / ‘Looked After Child’, will be referred to locally as ‘YPLA’ or ‘Young Person Looked After’.

ID: 9163, revised 28/04/2023