Applying for a primary school place
Before applying for a primary school place for your child to start in the Reception year in September 2023, you should research all the schools that you and your child are interested in. You can find information here:
- Starting primary school in Southwark 2023-24 (PDF, 7.4mb)
If you're a Southwark resident, you must apply online for a primary school place. You can find further information on completing an online school admissions application on our how to apply online page.
If you do not live in Southwark, you must complete the admission application for the borough in which you live even if you'd like to apply for a school in Southwark.
When applying for a school place you can express a preference for up to six schools whether they're in Southwark or in another borough.
Social or medical need
If you're going to apply to a school under their medical/social criterion, you must upload additional supporting documents as attachments with your online application before 11.59pm on 15 January 2023. Documents may include a recent medical or social report and/or a letter from a professional.
It's important that you also visit the school first before naming it as a preference on your application. This is to ensure that the school is suitable to meet your child’s needs. We strongly advise families to check each school's website for details on how and when they will be holding their open day/evening as this may be subject to change at short notice.
Looked after children (LAC) and previously looked after children (PLAC) in England
For the purposes of school admissions, a ‘looked after child’ is a child who is (a) in the care of a local authority, or (b) being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services functions (see definition in Section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989) at the time of making an application to a school.
For the purposes of school admissions, a ‘previously looked after child’ in England is a child who was previously looked after by a local authority in England but ceased to be so because they were adopted (or became subject to a child arrangements order or special guardianship order) immediately following having been looked after. Adoption is defined under the Adoption Act 1976 (see section 12 adoption orders) and children who were adopted under the Adoption and Children’s Act 2002 (see section 46 adoption orders). Child arrangements orders are defined in section 8 of the Children Act 1989, as amended by section 12 of the Children and Families Act 2014. Child arrangements orders replace residence orders and any residence orders in force prior to 22 April 2014 is deemed to be a child arrangements order. Section 14A of the Children Act 1989 defines a ‘special guardianship order’ as an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s special guardian (or special guardians).
If you are applying on behalf of a LAC and PLAC in the care of a local authority in England, you must upload the following supporting documents as attachments with your online application before 11.59pm on 15 January 2023:
1. A letter on headed paper from the local authority in England where the child is currently/previously ‘looked after’. The letter must confirm that at the time of making the admissions application, the child is either currently ‘looked after’ or was previously 'looked after’ (but ceased to be so because they were adopted, subject to a child arrangements order or a special guardianship order immediately following having been looked after); and
2. If the child was previously 'looked after', a relevant court order under English law such as an adoption order, a child arrangements order or a special guardianship order.
Internationally adopted previously looked after children (IAPLAC)
For the purposes of school admissions, a child is regarded as IAPLAC if:
- they've been adopted; and
- they appear to the admission authority to have previously been in state care outside of England (in the care of or accommodated by a public authority, a religious organisation, or any other provider of care whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society) immediately before they were adopted
If you're applying on behalf of an IAPLAC, you must upload both of the supporting documents listed below as attachments with your online application before 11.59pm on 15 January 2023:
1. Documentary evidence of adoption which includes one of these documents:
a) An adoption order from a UK court;
b) An adoption certificate issued by the Registrar General for England and Wales, National Records Scotland, or the General Register Office for Northern Ireland;
c) An Article 23 Certificate – this applies to Hague convention adoptions, and will have been issued by a Central Authority; or
d) Official documentation from the relevant court or state authorities in the country of adoption, confirming that the child was adopted. Please note, in the case of d) we may ask for further information such as a certified document obtained from the embassy of the country of origin, a letter from an adoption agency, a letter from another agency or organisation that has been involved with the child or a notarised and translated legal document.
2. Documentary evidence that the child was previously looked after. In most cases, evidence will be in the form of a report or letter, which either describes the child’s pre-adoption circumstances or states that the child was in the care of or accommodated by a public authority, a religious organisation, or any other provider of care whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society. If the child was looked after by private foster parents, evidence should show that the care was arranged by or authorised by an organisation that meets the definition. Examples of evidence may include:
- an Article 16 Report - this applies to Hague convention adoptions and will have been issued by the Central Authority
- information provided by an adoption agency, either in the UK or overseas
- information provided by an organisation that provided care for the child (for example, a charity or religious organisation)
- a report or letter from another agency or organisation that has been involved with the child
Southwark Council's school admissions team may liaise with our virtual school head (VSH) in relation to IAPLAC applicants and any evidence that is submitted to support the application. For further information on IAPLAC, view the DfE’s guidance.
Supplementary Information Form (SIF)
Some schools need to collect information that is not included on the admission application. They request this information using a supplementary information form (SIF). The school will use the information you provide by comparing it against their published admissions criteria. For example, a faith school will require evidence of church attendance. You must complete a SIF if the school you have listed as one of your preferences requires this. The SIF will be available from the school and must be completed, signed and returned directly to the school. Please check the individual deadline date for returning the SIF with each school.
Where a SIF is required alongside an admission application, your application may be invalid or your chances of a place reduced unless both have been completed, signed and received at the correct addresses by the closing dates for each.
Submitting your online application
You must ensure that the online application is fully completed and that all details are entered correctly. Failure to tick certain boxes such as the sibling box, the social/medical box or the ‘looked after child’ box will mean that your application will not be considered under these criteria. If you're providing additional documents to support your application you must upload these as an attachment with your online application before 11.59pm on 15 January 2023. Please do not post or email supporting documentation as we will not be able to accept these.
When you've completed your online application, you must submit it by the closing date of 15 January 2023 by 11.59pm. The online application will not be deemed as on time unless it's submitted by this time and date.
To submit your online application, you must click on the ‘submit application’ button. Once you've submitted your online application, you should receive an email confirming that your application has been submitted successfully alongside a unique application reference number.
If you do not receive this email and an application reference number, it means that your application was not submitted successfully and you must log in and click on the ‘submit application’ button again.
Page last updated: 25 August 2022