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When you’re a parent or guardian, you can often feel like life is an endless round of applications – especially when you have several children. One minute your focus is a nursery place for your three-year-old, the next you’re looking for the right primary school. Within no time at all, your child is off to secondary and, before you know it, they have reached the end of compulsory education and are applying to a post-16 college.

It’s enough to bewilder anyone; however, the important thing is to make an early decision about what kind of education you want your child to have, i.e. English, Welsh-medium, bilingual, faith school, etc., find out the admissions criteria, e.g. catchment areas or religious requirements, and then stick rigidly to the admissions timetable.

Nursery admissions

Currently, every child in Wales is entitled to a free, part-time, term-time nursery place from the September of the academic year in which they become four, i.e. their pre-school year.*

Most of these places are in school nurseries; however, some children have nursery places in playgroups or private day nurseries. 

The admissions process depends on the nursery provider. If you want a place in a school-based nursery, follow the admissions process explained under Schools Admissions (below). For playgroups and private day nurseries, you can contact the provider direct.

*The Welsh Government is currently piloting a new early education offer to working parents which offers 30 hours a week for up to 48 weeks of the year. The intention is to roll the offer  out across Wales.

Rising 3 places may be available to children born between September 1 and March 31 who have been allocated a September nursery place, but only if there are places available at the nursery. Children born between April 1 and August 31 are not eligible for a Rising 3 place.

The Family Information Service can advise you on early years education and your options.

School admissions

When you have decided which school you would like your child to attend, contact the admission authority for an application form:

  • Community and voluntary controlled schools – apply to the local council
  • Voluntary aided (often faith) or foundation schools – contact the school direct.

Aim to get your application in by the published deadline because late applications are not always looked at with the ones that arrived on time. 

Visit your local council website  for more information about admissions, including deadlines and how to appeal if you are unable to secure a place in your preferred school.

If you are applying for a voluntary aided (often faith) or foundation school visit the school’s website for details of their admissions procedure.

Citizens Advice provides general information about the school admissions process, including the ‘oversubscription criteria’ and what to do if you are refused a school place.

College admissions

Many young people now decide to stay on to the sixth form at school; however, others prefer to leave school and study at their local college.

Many of these academic and vocational courses are very popular and places are limited. Encourage your child to look online to see what’s on offer and to go along to open days so they can talk to course tutors and other students before making a formal application for the course.

Most college applications are now done online but there will probably be an interview to make sure the course is a good match for your child’s abilities and future career plans. You can search for courses on Careers Wales.

Last updated: 08/03/2018