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Health and Wellbeing
A Health and Well-being Wales Partner

The majority of children remain at the same primary school and subsequent secondary school throughout their education.

Sometimes, however, it becomes necessary or preferable to move a child to a different school. It may be the child themself who wants to move schools; or perhaps you, as their parent or guardian, recognise that their needs would be better met in a different learning environment, e.g. a smaller school.

You may be concerned that moving a child from one school to another will be a major upheaval that will have a negative effect on their education.

Only you can decide what is best for your child; however, unless the move is unavoidable, e.g. you are moving home, it is advisable to speak with both schools before you make your final decision.

Reasons for changing schools

There are numerous reasons a parent might decide to move their child to a new school, including:

  • Your child is unhappy at school and nothing you can do helps.
  • They are not making good progress or are falling behind.
  • You are not happy with how the school has handled certain incidents, e.g. bullying, or occasional bad behaviour.
  • The current school refuses to listen to you or acknowledge your child’s needs.
  • Your child wants to go to a different school.
  • Moving home.

If you believe your child’s current school is failing them, then often moving schools can be a positive thing.

Reasons not to change school

Parents can ask to change schools at any stage of their child’s education; however, a transfer might not always be the answer, especially if the child is settled in their current school.

It is not usually problematic for primary-age and Year 7, 8 and 9 children to change schools. Children in Year 10 and 11 have reached a critical time in their education and they might not be able to continue with the same subject choices in another school. Most schools would advise against moving a child at this stage of their education unless there are exceptional circumstances.

School transport is not automatically provided to children who move to a school outside their catchment area.

What steps to take if you decide to move your child

Admissions and transfers to community and voluntary controlled schools are authorised by the relevant local council. Fill out a transfer request form stating which school(s) you would like to move your child to and when. If you apply during term-time you will usually hear back within 15 working days. There is no guarantee there will be places available in your first school of choice.

If you wish to move your child to a voluntary aided (often faith) or foundation school, you will need to contact the school direct.

If your child has additional learning needs, their records will be transferred to the new school. If you have moved council areas, the new council must make sure your child gets all the additional help set out in the statement and, within six weeks, must tell you when they will review the statement or whether they are going to carry out a new statutory assessment of your child.

Last updated: 20/02/2023