National Offer Day 2023: when is primary school admissions offer day - how parents can appeal decisions

All of your questions about the important day answered

Today, parents across the country are finding out which school their little ones will be going to in the autumn, as offers for places at primary schools are released in the United Kingdom.

On National Offer Day, parents are notified of which primary school their child has been offered a place at for the upcoming academic year.

Parents can usually express a preference for certain schools when they apply, but there is no guarantee that their child will be offered a place at their preferred school. So what can parents do if their child isn’t offered a place at their top choice school?

How will you be made aware of the decision? And - perhaps most importantly - when exactly is National Offer Day 2023? Here is everything you need to know about it.

When is National Offer Day 2023?

National Offer Day usually takes place on the 16 April of each year. However, as that date falls on a Sunday in 2023, this year’s National Offer Day will actually take place on Monday 17 April 2023.

The specifics of how decisions are received by parents, and at what time they are delivered, vary by local council (Find your local council - GOV.UK). The decision may be delivered via email or letter, and in some areas parents will be able to view their results through the admissions portal or system.

How are primary school places decided?

Teacher Natalie Andrew talks to her Year 2 primary school students at Halley House School in east London (Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)Teacher Natalie Andrew talks to her Year 2 primary school students at Halley House School in east London (Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Teacher Natalie Andrew talks to her Year 2 primary school students at Halley House School in east London (Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Certain admission criteria are used by schools to determine which children are accepted. These criteria are set by the local council or the school itself.

Although children who are or have been in care must be given top priority by all state-funded schools, each institution has its own set of admission requirements which can include proximity to the school, siblings already attending the school, any special educational needs or disabilities that the child may have, and other factors.

Though the local authority will try to accommodate preferences where possible, not every parent will be successful in securing a place at their first-choice school, because some schools receive more applications than they have places available (more information on appealing decisions can be found below).

Those who most closely fit the requirements for the school’s particular admission arrangements will be given priority. The local authority must offer a place at a different school if it cannot offer one at the parents’ top choice.

What do I need to do once I receive an offer?

As a parent or carer, once you have received an offer of a school place for the child in your care, you must formally accept the offer by the deadline specified. Again, specifics may vary by council (Find your local council - GOV.UK), but this deadline is usually set within the admissions portal or system operated by the local authority.

When you receive an offer, it will include clear information and instructions on the next steps you need to take to accept it. It is important for parents to respond promptly to the offer of a school place, as failure to do so may result in the place being offered to another child on the waiting list.

How can I appeal a decision?

According to the government’s Education Hub, in 2022, 92.2% of families received an offer from their first choice of primary school, and 98.1% of families received an offer from one of their top three choices.

But you can appeal the decision if your top choice school is not offered to the child. Parents or carers who wish to appeal a decision should first contact the school’s admission authority, which is in charge of setting up the appeal panel.

Before making a decision, the panel will consider the evidence put forth by the parent and the admissions authority. The appeal panel’s decision is final. If the appeal is successful, the admissions authority must offer the child a spot at the school.

Bear in mind that the advice is to accept the offer your child did receive, even if you are appealing a decision, to ensure that they will still have a confirmed school place in the event the appeal is denied. Your right to appeal will not be affected by accepting another offer, nor will it restrict your other options.

It’s also worth remembering that the appeals process can be lengthy, and there is no guarantee that the appeal will be successful. Parents and carers can find their school’s admission authority by visiting their local council website: Find your local council - GOV.UK.

Can I join a waiting list for my top choice school?

If your child didn’t receive an offer to attend your top choice school, it is in many cases possible to add their name to a waiting list, in the event that a place becomes available after National Offer Day.

Again, you should still accept the offer you did receive for your child, even if it wasn’t for your top choice school. This won’t affect where your child sits on the waiting list. Waiting lists must be maintained by schools for at least one term, and the order of the list is determined by the school’s oversubscription criteria.

Your child may be automatically placed on the waiting lists of the schools you ranked higher in some areas, while in others you may have to request to be added to the waiting list (Find your local council - GOV.UK).