Deciding which school to apply for

What kind of schools can I apply for? 

We have 98 community, voluntary controlled, voluntary aided, academy and free schools in Bolton. The community and voluntary controlled schools follow the same admission policy which is determined by the council. The voluntary aided, academy and free schools have their own individual admission policies determined by their governing bodies and published on the school website. All applications received for those schools will be ranked by the individual schools according to their admission policy. The places are allocated by the local authority on national offer day.

Deciding which school to apply for 

Details for all primary schools in Bolton can be found on the Schools Directory.

Alternatively you can view schools in your area using My Maps

Each year the Department for Education (DfE) publishes performance tables for primary schools, this can be found at along with advice on expressing school preferences.

The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) is a registered charity offering information about state education in England and Wales.

The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) is an external and independent body. Reports on individual schools can be downloaded from

Information about individual schools can also be found on their websites. Some schools also hold open days or evenings, for further information about times and dates contact your preferred schools

When can my child start school?

All children have the right to start school from the September after their fourth birthday. If you do not feel that your child is ready to start school, you can defer that date until later in the reception year or arrange for them to attend on a part-time basis. If you wish to take this route, you must still make an application at the usual time.   All children must be in full time education by the time they reach compulsory school age.

Children do not reach compulsory school age until the ‘prescribed day’ following their fifth birthday. This on 31 December, 31 March or 31 August following their fifth birthday - whichever comes first. If your child's fifth birthday is on one of those dates then they reach compulsory school age on that date. 

Children born between 1 April and 31 August are summer born and are not required to start school until the September following their fifth birthday. If you want your child to start school at that point you must make an application at the usual time and then contact the school admissions team to make your request. The final decision remains with the admission authority for the school and will be decided in the best interests of the child. An agreement to delay your application until the following year does not guarantee a place and your application will be considered under the normal admission arrangements. An agreement with one school is not binding on another should your application for one school not be successful. You are strongly advised to discuss your concerns with the school admissions team as soon as possible.

How many schools should I apply for? 

You can apply for up to three schools. You should read the admission policy for your preferred schools to determine the likelihood of being allocated a school place. Distance from your home to school can be an important factor. The last distance for each school in the 2023 admission process can be found on the Schools Directory.  Once you have submitted your application you should make sure that any additional information required by the school(s) e.g. supplementary faith form, medical information, baptism certificates etc are sent to the school or local authority before the closing date for applications – 15 January.

How are places decided

Each school preference on your application will be ranked according to the published admission policy for the individual school. The local authority will rank the applications received for the community and voluntary controlled schools whilst the voluntary aided, academy and free schools will rank their own applications according to their published policies. Once this information has been collated the local authority can then begin the process of allocating of school places.