Primary school admissions: how to apply in Scotland and the deadline for applications

Many parents of young children will be thinking about what happens come the start of the next academic year.

Where will their little ones go to school? Do they have to apply? What do they need to do next?

We aim to answer some of the most pressing questions here. Here’s everything you need to know about primary school applications in Scotland.

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How do I choose the best school?

You can apply for a place at a state primary school online or by using your council’s application form.

In Scotland, you don't decide which school your child is given a place at. It's your local council's choice.

You can request a place at another school if you are unhappy with your council's first choice, but whether this request is granted depends on whether there are free places.

If there's no space the council doesn't need to grant your request. If this happens you'll either need to find a school with free places, send your child to the school in your catchment area or look at options for fee-paying private schools that aren't run by your local council.

Councils use 'catchment areas' to decide where your child is given a place at school.

A catchment area is an area around a single school. Any children who live in this area are given a place at the school.

Most Scottish councils publish catchment area maps on their websites, and you can find out where your child will be given a place at school by looking on your local council's website, which you can find using this tool.

When is the best time to apply and what's the deadline?

In the year before your child gets to primary or secondary school age, some councils send you a letter to confirm your child has a place at a local school. It should also ask you to confirm this place.

If you want your child to go to this school all you need to do is reply to confirm. If your child has a place at another school you should let your local council know.

Some councils might not send letters. In these councils you'll need to enrol your child at school in the year before they are due to start school

Check the website of your local authority for details or search via your postcode using this tool.

When must my child start school?

The following shows when children will usually start primary school, based on their birthday:

Birthday: 1 March 2015 - 29 February 2016

School start date: August 2020

Birthday: 1 March 2016 - 28 February 2017

School start date: August 2021

Birthday: 1 March 2017 - 28 February 2018

School start date: August 2022

Birthday: 1 March 2018 - 28 February 2019

School start date: August 2023

If your child is still four years old on the date they are due to start primary school, you can defer your child's entry to primary school by a year.

How do I apply for a private school place?

Private schools have their own admissions procedures so you should apply directly if you want to send your child to a private school.