The Education Network for Waltham Forest
Supported by Waltham Forest

Nursery School Admissions

Guidance for Schools & Colleges

Find out about the Council’s service in this areaGuidance for headteachers, school governors and office managers:

1. The Admission Authority

1.1 The Admission Authority for nursery schools and classes attached to infant and primary community and Voluntary Controlled (V.C.) schools is the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Voluntary Aided infant and primary schools are their own admissions authority. The admission authority sets the overall policy, procedures and admission criteria for all admissions.

1.2 The authority has delegated the day-to-day administration and operation of the admission policy to individual governing bodies. There must be no change to the admission policy without the approval of the admission authority.

1.3 Admission to nursery school and nursery classes must meet the standards set in the DfE School Admissions Code 2012.

2. Admission Age

2.1 The age at admission must not be below three years. Parents have the right to request a place and should not be refused admission because the requested admission does not begin at a particular age.

2.2 Parents’ requests for admission for periods such as the final term only, two terms, one year etc. should be considered and met wherever possible.

3. Leaving age

3.1 Children should transfer to a reception class at the start of the term relating to their planned admission except for where transfer may be delayed on the basis of identified special educational needs provision.

3.2 Parents may defer entry to reception and details of this can be found under the section ‘Primary school admission’.

Birth-date range

Last term in Nursery

Expected admission to school

1 September to 31 August

Summer term before fifth birthday

Autumn term

4. Published Admission Number

4.1 The school must publish the admission number in the School Prospectus annually along with the admissions criteria (as agreed by the LA in the case of community schools and the governing body in the case of voluntary-aided schools).

4.2 Schools must not refuse admission if the admission limit has not been reached.

5. Basis of admission

5.1 Places are normally offered to parents on a part-time basis for five sessions each week. Children will be offered either a morning or afternoon place. It is expected that children will usually remain in the same session (i.e. morning or afternoon) offered throughout their time in the nursery.

6. Part-time and Full-time places

6.1 Historically, all four nursery schools have offered a small number of full-time places. The general practice has been that all children must have attended on a part-time basis and after an assessment of the child’s educational, developmental or social needs a full-time place would be offered if appropriate.

6.2 Occasionally nursery schools and classes have offered an emergency full-time place to support a child with an immediate short-term need. In such cases, headteachers should provide parents with written details that specify the start and end of the arrangement and any mechanism for extending the full-time place. Headteachers must make it clear if the arrangement is fixed and there will be no possibility of extending the full-time placement.

6.3 Some schools are also Children Centres. Where a child is admitted to a Children Centre, the Local Authority funds the part-time free education element, and the parent/carer will meet the cost of any provision over this free part-time entitlement. For these children, Local Authority funding will be provided from the term that they commence attendance.

6.4 Nursery schools and Schools with nursery classes are funded on the basis of the number of pupils on roll in the January preceding the next financial year.

6.5 In accordance with the above the LA will not fund full-time placements in nursery schools or nursery classes and full-time places should not be granted unless such admissions have been agreed prior to admission. This applies equally to community, voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools.

Headteachers will be required to complete a proforma which sets out why a particular child should be offered a full-time place and the professional advice on which this recommendation is based. (This is not required for emergency full-time placements). Full-time placements will reduce the total number of children that can be offered places and therefore without prior approval, this could reduce the total level of funding available to the school.

6.6 Schools will be able to consider offering full-time placements, without referral to the LA, where the additional sessions are funded from other sources (e.g. privately by parents directly, or other funding initiatives as appropriate) and where no other child is denied a part-time place who otherwise would have had a part-time place offered in accordance with the admissions policy and criteria.

7. Transfer between settings

7.1 There may be circumstances that force parents to consider seeking a transfer to another setting. Usually this will be because the family have moved and they can no longer attend their current school.

7.2 Parents should contact the headteacher of the school that is closest to their new address and they will join the waiting list. The headteacher will apply the criteria when they consider the application.

Admission Criteria

Admission Criteria for nursery schools and nursery classes attached to community Voluntary Controlled infant and primary schools.

Waltham Forest has established a policy governing admission to Nursery Schools and Classes. The implementation of the policy has been delegated to the governors of the school.

The headteacher will consider the following admission criteria that have equal importance in the allocation of part-time places. If necessary decisions will take account of advice given from other professional sources. This also applies to requests for full-time placements.

A. Individual needs of children and their families:

This will cover special educational need, physical, medical, social and emotional concerns that affect the child’s progress. The needs of the parent may also be considered.

The following categories of child will receive higher priority for admission.

  • Those children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs.
  • Children in public care.
  • Children, or the parent/carer, with a medical condition affecting mobility and this is the closest setting to the family home or place of long-term medical treatment.

For some children, there will be strong educational reasons why a full-time place may be offered, subject to approval by the LA.

B. Children with a sibling attending the school, linked school or other local infant or primary school which does not have a nursery class attached to it:

The headteacher should consider the implications for both the family and for the school of sibling connections.

C. Nearness to the school:

The headteacher will consider the home address and may also take into account the childminding arrangements.

D. Continuity and progression:

Nursery schools:

Consideration will be given to the importance of family links with the nursery school and other local infant and primary schools.

Nursery classes:

Consideration will be given if a sister/brother is already on roll in the nursery class, linked infant, junior of primary school.


Headteachers should avoid creating expectations for parents who live a long way from a school (although this may be a legitimate factor to consider in respect of childminding arrangements). They also need to be aware that the parent/carer may believe that by getting a place in the nursery for their child the chances of a reception place may be improved. Headteachers should therefore remind parents/carers of the admissions criteria and the likelihood, on past experience of a place being available in the reception class.

A place for every child:

Waltham Forest LA cannot guarantee a nursery place for every child at the school preferred by a parent. Nor can it offer the same number of terms for each child, although every effort will be made to offer at least 3 terms.

Places in nursery schools and classes are primarily for residents of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. However applications cannot be refused if received from residents of other boroughs. The basis for refusal of an out-borough request is that the nursery is full or that places have all been offered to children living closer to the school and there are no remaining places to offer.

Voluntary Aided Schools:

Voluntary Aided Schools control their own admissions to attached nursery classes. Individual schools will provide information on their admission policies.


There is no formal appeal for refusal to offer a part-time place at a nursery school or class.

A parental request for a review of a decision not to offer a part-time place should be managed as a complaint, the response should be according to the school’s published complaints procedure. Where the complaint is against the refusal by the LA to offer a full-time place, the parent / carer should complain to the School Admissions team, who manages admissions to schools.

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Last updated: 
Tuesday, 28 October, 2014
Last updated: 28 October 2014 by Arjun Gadhvi