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How to Move Schools When Moving House

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

14th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 16th Feb 2024) 5 minute read

There’s a lot to think about when moving to a new house, especially if you’re moving with children. You’ll have to factor in proximity to family, friends and good schools. While there is a lot of procedures to get through when it comes to getting a school placement for your child, good planning and research will help make things less stressful.

Moving house and changing primary schools can be difficult, with a constant fear that you’ll disturb their learning progress and complicate the admission process. We’ve put together this guide with tips to help you prepare for moving house and school admissions.

  1. How to Secure a Place
  2. How to Prove Your Address for School Admissions
  3. What Happens If You Move House After School Application?
  4. When to Apply for a New School Place
  5. School Catchment Areas and Distance Criteria Explained
  6. What Constitutes a Fraudulent School Application?
  7. Can You Stay in the Same School After Moving?
  8. Save Money with Compare My Move

How to Secure a Place

Each school will have a different policy on joining throughout the school year. There might be certain criteria you have to match and deadlines you’ll have to meet.

Your local council will be able to offer the correct criteria for your desired school and the actual application process is largely contingent on where you choose to live. Depending on the council, you will either have to apply directly to the school or via the local authority.

To make the process easier, you should search websites such as Ofsted to start creating a school shortlist prior to the move. List the schools in your new area that you would be happy to send your children to. It is advised to keep your child enrolled in their current school at this point, in case anything happens to push back moving day.

Once you have shortlisted a number of schools, contact the office to find out submissions and popularity to gauge how successful your application will be. If the school is oversubscribed, it is unlikely your child will be accepted, although you can always appeal the decision.

How to Prove Your Address for School Admissions

Proof of address for your new home will be needed when applying for a new school for your child. The address will have to be that of your child’s permanent residence at the time of filling out the application. Each local authority is different, but they will generally ask for two pieces of evidence of your address. Proof of address can include:

  • A copy of your tenancy agreement
  • A utility bill from the past three months
  • A council tax letter for the current year
  • A TV licence
  • A copy of a tax credits letter

What Happens If You Move House After School Application?

If you’re moving house during the school application process, you will need to provide evidence of your new address. Proof of address can include:

  • A letter from your solicitor confirming the moving date
  • A copy of the lease agreement from your letting agent

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When to Apply for a New School Place

Trying to secure a new school place during the middle of the school year can be stressful. Commonly known as ‘in-year admissions’, transferring to a new school midyear requires a lot of preparation. You will need to apply at least six weeks before your child is set to start at the new school. But ideally you should apply as soon as you know applications are open.

When over-subscription to schools happens, there will be certain criteria outlined by the admissions office which will be considered. They will likely consider the distance between your house and school, academic record, and welfare of the child.

For your peace of mind, it is worth applying to a range of schools to be certain your child will have somewhere to go once you have moved house. It’s important to note, If you’re moving from abroad back to a house that you own, you may be asked for evidence from a third party, like a doctor's statement.

School Catchment Areas and Distance Criteria Explained

A catchment area is a geographical area that will determine if your child can attend a certain school, based on their permanent residence and how far away it is from the school. The catchment area is likely to change each year based on the number of applications per year. This factor is especially important to consider when moving long-distance.

Essentially, the closer you live to the school, the better chance you have of getting your school place accepted. Whilst distance from the school is usually the main factor in getting accepted into the school, some schools will apply other factors first, or use a combination of factors.

Factors that may be prioritised in school places:

  • Schools will often prioritise places on whether a child has a sibling already at the school, and then go on to prioritise distance from the school as the next factor.
  • If the school is religious, then your child’s faith and religion will be prioritised sometimes over other non-religious students.
  • Medical and social needs might be prioritised in school admissions for certain schools.

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What Constitutes a Fraudulent School Application?

Educational experts, Schools Week, claim that fraudulent applications are on the rise, which affects the number of genuine students not getting a place at their desired schools. A fraudulent school application can consist of:

  • Using a fake address
  • Using an address that isn’t your child’s permanent residence, such as a grandparent’s address
  • Renting a house near the desired school whilst still owning and living in a different house
  • Renting a house near the school but moving to a different location before the school start date

It's important that you ensure the correct address is used on the application to avoid delaying your child's school place. It can be an easy mistake if you are in-between properties or if you have circumstances that mean your child has numerous residences throughout the year.

If you're unsure what address to submit, check with the desired school and your local council so you'll have peace of mind.

How schools check addresses

The school will have to check and approve your child’s address is correct before making a decision on their application. Some schools or councils will make an effort to check addresses whilst some may rely on a tip-off of a fraudulent address from another parent at the school. Some cases of fraud will be detected through random checks, also.

  • Cross-referencing applications with council tax records
  • Cross-referencing applications with electoral roll
  • Spot checks on addresses
  • Potentially checking social media for evidence of address fraud

Can You Stay in the Same School After Moving?

If you're staying local and staying within the catchment area, then there is no need to move schools. However, if you're moving further afield and to a different catchment area, you'll need to apply for a new school place for your children.

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Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.