It is important to us that your child feels happy and safe at school. Starting school for the first time or joining a new school can be a very worrying and unsettling time for both children and their parents. Parents are always invited to bring their child along to our school to visit and meet our staff prior to admission. We will do all we can to make the transition into school at The Downs as smooth as possible.
Places are offered subject to availability as all schools have a limited number of places within each year group, including reception.
When can my child start school?
All children start school (Year Reception) in the September before their fifth birthday.
In the June or July, prior to your child starting, a meeting will be held for parents. At this meeting parents will have an opportunity to meet the Early Years staff and learn more about what to expect for their child starting school. Home visits will also be arranged.
We are always happy to meet parents who may be thinking about joining The Downs Primary School. Please contact the school office to arrange an appointment to meet the Headteacher, Ms Allen, and have a chance to look around the school.
applying for a school place - reception
(Children starting at the beginning of the new school year in Reception class.)
Parents must complete an Application Form, either on paper or online, and send it to Planning and Admissions at Essex County Council by the published closing date, which varies from year to year. Planning and Admissions will allocate places and parents will be offered a place on the published offer date.
Young children can find a full day very tiring at first. For this reason, we believe that it can be of great benefit that new reception children, starting school for the first time, have a gradual introduction for the first two or three days before attending school for a full day.
No child is guaranteed a place at the school. In the event of the school being over subscribed, places are allocated using our Admissions Policy. The following criteria are used in the order shown:
- Looked After Children and previously Looked After Children
- Children with a sibling attending the school at the time of application;
- Children who attend the nursery at The Downs Primary School and Nursery;
- Children living in the priority admission area;
- Remaining applications.
Looked After Children
A ‘looked after child’ or a child who was previously looked after but immediately after being looked after became subject to an adoption, child arrangements or special guardianship order will be given first priority in oversubscription criteria ahead of all other applicants in accordance with the School Admissions Code 2021. This also includes those children who appear (to the admission authority) to have been in state care outside of England and ceased to be in state care as a result of being adopted. 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 (as defined in Section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989).
For mid-year applications a sibling is a child who has a brother, sister, adopted brother or sister or stepbrother or stepsister living in the same family unit in the same family household and address as a child who attends or has been offered a place at the preferred school or partner school at the time of application and determination and with a reasonable expectation that the sibling will be attending at the time of admission
You can view a copy of our full Admissions Policy in the Policies section of this website.
applying for a mid-year admission
Parents requesting admission to school at any other time are encouraged to visit the school and meet the Headteacher. The Headteacher will let parents know whether there is a place available for their child. If there is a space for their child, parents will contact Planning and Admissions and complete a Mid-Year Application Form either on paper or online https://essex-self.achieveservice.com/service/Mid_year_application_for_a_primary__infant_or_junior_school_place. Once you have completed the form and sent it to School Planning and Admissions they will apply to all the schools you have listed. If there is a space available, School Planning and Admissions will offer you a place on behalf of the school by sending you an offer letter within 10–15 school days. We are a two-form entry school and we take 60 children in each year group. (See Admissions Policy) You will be asked to complete our own pupil information forms and your child’s previous school will be contacted.
Children with specific educational needs may have a delayed start to ensure that the right support is in place.
If an application is refused, parents do have a right to appeal against it (under the 1980 Education Act). Information regarding admission appeals, including the appeals timetable, is also available on the Essex County Council website: https://www.essex.gov.uk/after-your-school-offer