Glossary of Admissions Terms

Admission Authority
When referring to a community or voluntary-controlled school the Admission Authority is the Local Authority (LA). For foundation schools (including Trust schools), voluntary aided schools and Academies the governing bodies of the individual schools are the Admission Authority. However, in many areas these schools may delegate the responsibility for admissions into Year 7 to the Local Authority.

Admissions Criteria or Admissions Policy
The rules used by a school to decide the order in which children are offered school places. Admission Authorities are required to publish these.

Admission Number (PAN)
See “PAN”, below.

Allocations Day
Places for almost all state secondary schools are allocated on the first working day in March. This is known as National Allocations Day.

An appeal is your opportunity to ask for an Independent Appeal Panel to consider the Admission Authority’s decision not to offer your child a place at the school you want.
There are two types of appeal:

  1. Selection appeal panels consider cases where a child has not reached the required qualifying score in the 11+.
  1. Over-subscription appeals (also known as transfer appeals) are for cases where the child has not been allocated the preferred school.

Some admission authorities for grammar schools also use a review system to consider whether children who have marginally failed to reach the required standard in the 11+ are of grammar school ability. This does not replace a parent’s formal right of appeal against refusal of a place.

For more information about appeals please look at our
Appeals Q&A

Casual Admission
These are also known as “In Year Admissions”. These are applications that are received outside of the normal Admissions round, usually because a family has moved to a different area.

Catchment Area
An area set out around each school that is served by the school. The admission rules give priority, but not a guarantee of admission, to children who live within the catchment area of the school and whose parents register a written preference for the school by the deadline. The Admission Authority will consider children who live outside the catchment area of their preferred school if there are any places left after they have met the needs of those living within catchment.

Common Application Form (CAF)
Every parent must complete this form for the transfer to a state secondary school. The CAF is submitted to your home authority (LA), even if you have named schools in another county or admission authority on it. The local authority will then advise the neighbouring authority of your preference for a school in their area. There is more information and guidance on completing the CAF here

Community Schools
A community school is run by the local authority, which employs the staff, owns the land and buildings and decides the admissions criteria.

Equal Preference System
The Equal Preference system was created to prevent admission authorities (particularly where an individual school is the admission authority) giving higher priority to parents who make a particular school their first preference. There is a more detailed explanation of the Equal Preference System here. It means that every school preference you express is treated as if it is a unique application.

Fair Access Protocol
This applies to casual admissions and establishes a mechanism to ensure access to education is secured quickly for unplaced children, especially the most vulnerable, and ensures that all schools in an area admit their fair share of children with challenging behaviour. This includes admitting children above the published admission number to schools that are already full.

Foundation and Trust Schools
Foundation schools are run by their own governing body, which employs the staff and sets the admissions criteria. Land and buildings are usually owned by the governing body or a charitable foundation.

A Trust school is a type of foundation school which forms a charitable trust with an outside partner – for example, a business or educational charity – aiming to raise standards and explore new ways of working.

Greenwich Judgement (1989)
This judgement established that maintained schools may not give priority to children for the sole reason that they live within the LA’s administrative boundaries. (But, see the Rotheram judgement, below.)

Home Authority
The Local Authority area in which you live.

Looked After Child
A child in public care of a Local Authority in accordance with section 22 of the Children Act 1989.

Normal Home Address
This is the child’s usual home address and it is used to calculate the distance from home to school where distance is an over-subscription criterion. Evidence of address is always required and admission authorities will investigate applications that they believe may be fraudulent.

Published Admission Number (PAN)
This is the number of children to be admitted to a school in a given year. The number depends on the amount and type of accommodation available at the school and is worked out using instructions set out by the Department for Education and Skills. It is agreed before the admissions process begins and normally the school will not offer more places than this number.

Parents can express a preference for a particular school but that does not guarantee a place at that particular school.

Rotherham Judgement (1997)
This established that admission authorities may operate specified catchment areas as part of their oversubscription criteria provided that, in doing so, they are not in breach of the Greenwich judgement.

Sibling Rule
Some grammar schools give priority for siblings where one or more of the siblings already attend the school. Siblings can include adopted children who reside at the same address as the older or younger child.

Specialist Status
All secondary schools can apply for specialist status in arts, languages, sports, technology, business and enterprise, maths and computing, science or engineering. Some comprehensive schools may select a percentage of children based on testing in their specialist area.

Supplementary Form
Some schools ask for additional information that is not collected on-line or on the Common Application Form (CAF), so that they can follow their admission rules, for example faith schools. Always check the school’s own website to see if an additional form is required for your application.

Voluntary-Aided Schools
These are mainly religious or ‘faith’ schools, although anyone can apply for a place. As with foundation schools, the governing body employs the staff and sets the admissions criteria. The school’s buildings and land are normally owned by a charitable foundation, often a religious organisation. The governing body contributes to building and maintenance costs.

Voluntary-Controlled Schools
Voluntary-controlled schools are similar to voluntary aided schools, but are run by the local authority. As with community schools, the local authority employs the school’s staff and sets the admissions criteria. School land and buildings are normally owned by a charity, often a religious organisation, which also appoints some of the members of the governing body.