On this page you will find information about the admissions process in Leeds, including how to apply for a school.

If your child has SEND but does not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), then you should follow the usual admissions process.

How do I choose a school?

If you are applying for your child to start primary, junior or secondary school for the first time, you can find all the information you need to consider, including national deadlines, online application portal and school admission information for Leeds schools on the Leeds City Council admissions pages. 

We would suggest looking at the primary schools in your local area, including their websites and OFSTED reports. It is also a good idea to contact the schools and ask to speak to the SENCos to discuss whether they think your child’s needs can be meet at their school, as this may help you decide on which schools to name. We can help you to prepare for a school visit. 

If your child is at a school, but you wish to change schools, you’ll need to apply for a school transfer. Find out more about moving schools 

You should also think about how your child might travel to and from school and whether you would be eligible for any help with home to school transport. 

Can I preference a school based on my child's SEND?

School places are offered according to the admission criteria listed in the school’s admission policy, so you will need to check the school’s policy to see what their criteria are.

All schools should be inclusive and are expected to meet needs for all children with low level SEND and also the majority of complex SEND, medical and mobility needs. 

If you think that your child has exceptional educational needs that can only be met at one school and that your child should get a school place due to specific admissions criterion, you could apply for priority. However not all schools offer this, so you will need to check their admissions policy. 

You can apply for priority at a school if your child does not have an EHCP but has either special educational needs, exceptional medical needs or mobility needs.  

To apply, you should attach the following to your online application: 

  • A letter written by yourself, to explain why you are requesting priority
  • supporting evidence from an independent professional, such as a doctor, nurse or teacher, to explain what your child's needs are and why only one school can meet that need

The Leeds City Council admissions webpages will tell you what to include in the letter and also gives examples of successful and unsuccessful applications, which will be useful to look at. 

What if I want a specialist placement?

To be offered a place at a specialist provision, a young person must have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). This is because they fall outside of the usual admissions process.

If you are going through the EHC needs assessment process then you should still follow the usual admissions process alongside this, incase a plan is not agreed.

You can request a specialist school or setting as part of the EHCP process and the local authority will name one in section I of a finalised plan. 

If you are wanting a change of placement then this can be discussed at the next EHCP review. 

We can help you look at specialist placement options. 

You can also visit Leeds City Council's support for pupils with SEND pages for more information.

How do I apply for secondary school place with an EHCP?

Choosing the right secondary school for your child is a big decision. For children with additional needs, there is often even more to think about.

The application process for children with Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs) is slightly different to general admissions. This is to ensure that children with EHCPs are allocated to schools before all other children. 

Stages of phase transfers

This timeline of stages applies to children who will be moving into year 6 (stage 1)and are in year 6 (stages 2-5). 

  • April to October: Reviewing the current EHCP
  • This review will be used to ensure that all the information about your child’s needs and the provision they require is up to date. You will be given the opportunity at the review to talk about secondary school options. 

    SENSAP will amend your child’s EHCP in line with the new information and send you a new, up to date version. It will not include the name of the secondary school in the EHCP at this stage. 

  • September until 31 October: Making your preferences
  • Leeds Local Authority are requesting that parents/carers of children in Year 6 preference through Leeds City Council online admissions portal.  

    If your child is currently attending an “all through school”, they will automatically transfer from Year 6 to Year 7. You do not need to notify the Local Authority of your preferences unless you want them to move to another school. 

    You can make your preferences by visiting the Leeds admission portal. We advise choosing more than one school to give your child the best chance of getting a place at a school you prefer. 

    Ipsea advise: ‘That under the law, there is no requirement for parents of a child with an EHC plan to go through the normal admissions process. Parents are able to complete the 'standard' form if they, but they do not have to.’ 

  • November to February: Consultations
  • The local authority will send your child’s EHCP and any other relevant information to the school you’ve applied for. This is to check whether they are able to meet your child’s needs and if they can offer a place. 

    Your child’s information may also be sent to other schoolsby the Local Authority, to see whether they are also able to meet your child’s needs. 

  • 15th February: Notification deadline
  • The national deadline for notifying families of secondary school destinations is 15th February. This means that on, or before, this date you will receive a new, updated EHCP which has the name of the secondary school written in section I. 

  • February to July of Y6: Transition planning
  • Children with additional needs often need more support and/or time to transition to their new school effectively. 

    Your primary school and other professionals who are involved will work with your child to prepare them for transition to secondary school named in their EHCP. 

    If there is another EHCP review scheduled to take place, you may wish to invite the secondary school to take part. 


What if i want to delay my child starting school?

Children must start full time education after they reach compulsory school age (on 31 December, 31 March or 31 August after turning 5, whichever comes first.) 

Most children start in Reception at primary school in the September after they turn 4. If you think your child is not ready to start school in the September after they turn 4, they could delay until the first day of the next term after they turn 5 or start school part time. 

To delay starting school, you will still need to apply for a Reception place in their normal age group, in case you do not get permission. 

You will then need to attach a letter to each school you apply for in your online application. The letter should explain: 

  • why you want your child to start school early or late
  • the year group you would like your child to start school in
  • attach evidence that supports your request if you have any

For more information on starting school, please visit the Leeds City Council starting school admissions page.

What about admission out of chronological age?

If your child is gifted and talented or has experienced problems like ill health and has missed a lot of school, they might be able to move up or down a year at school. This is called an admission out of chronological age. 

If your child is already attending school, and you feel they may benefit from moving to a different year group, you should talk to the headteacher about this. 

If you're applying for your child to move schools and want them to start in another year group, you need to apply for a place based on their normal age group and attach a letter requesting that they start in a different year. The letter must include: 

  • why you think your child should start out of their normal year group
  • the year group you wish your child to start in

Each school you apply for will make its own decision on whether your child can start in the year you request. Asking for your child to start in a different year will not affect whether they are offered a place. 

What if we are new to the country?

If you and your child are new to the country, then you will need to contact the Leeds City Council Admissions Team on: 

If you would like your child to attend a mainstream school, you can go through the normal admissions route to find a place at a mainstream school. The school would be able to claim funding for any SEND needs your child may have and they can consider applying for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) if they feel it may be needed. 

If the Admissions team feel your child would need a specialist setting, rather than mainstream school they will then contact an Education Psychologist (EP). Their role is to make a professional recommendation of where a child should be placed for their initial assessment. Children arriving new to the country can be placed in a specialist setting for their assessment. 

Useful resources

Leeds Sendiass are not responsible for the content of sites or services offered by third parties.

You can find more links on our Useful SEND resource page.