Category Archives: Schools

School entry points in England

We are often asked what the difference is between a formal entry point to a school and an “in year” admission.

Generally speaking, there are three main entry points to the school system.


4+ :  Children who turn five between 1st September and 31st August will enter school – the Reception class – at the start of that school year.

11+ : Children who turn twelve between 1st September and 31st August will start secondary school – Year 7 – at the start of the school year.

16+ : Children who turn seventeen between 1st September and 31st August will start Year 12 – often called the sixth form – at the start of the school year.


4+ and 11+ are compulsory ages for school.  Children don’t need to be in school from 16+ onwards, but do need to be in some sort of education.


OFSTED inspections

A common observation from many families is that many OFSTED reports are extremely out of date.

Certainly many schools rated “Outstanding” have not been inspected by OFSTED for over ten years – an example being this school in West London –,

The reason for this was an exemption introduced in 2012 that would allow schools rated “Outstanding” and “Good” to be inspected less regularly.  The thinking behind this was that OFSTED could focus its efforts on those schools that needed more help, that fell in the “Requires Improvement” or “Inadequate” categories.

As of 2020, this position is changing, with OFSTED now inspecting all schools regularly again.  They recognise that there can be many changes in a school’s profile – for example a change of headteacher – that might change the way the school is working.

Why can’t I hold a state school place?

A common question we hear from families concerns the state school application process.

Many relocating families now apply into the state sector, however are faced with the challenge of forward-planning when using the in-year admissions process.

Most councils and schools require a family to be resident before submitting an application for a state school.   This means that if they are looking for a space in January, but it is only early October, they don’t have clarity on which schools will have space.

Councils do this as they need to keep school places open for children who need them on an immediate basis.  A family does not become the local authority’s duty of care until they are residing within the boundaries of that authority.

There are however ways and strategies to make the most of “known unknowns” to help families forward plan.  For more information, contact our team at

Aptitude testing

State secondary schools applications close on the 31st October 2019 for September 2020 onwards.

Many schools – especially academies and free schools – allow some pupils entrance based on aptitude, often in the arts or music – accompanied by a reference from their current school.

There does seem to be some leeway here for schools to cherry-pick students in a non-transparent way – based on subjective artistic judgement and a confidential report in to a student’s abilities.