Definitions used in school admissions

Commonly used terms within the school admissions process

The Department for Education considers a ‘parent’ to include:

  • All biological parents, whether they are married or not
  • Any person who, although not a biological parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person - this could be an adoptive parent, a step-parent, guardian or other relative
  • Any person who, although not a biological parent and does not have parental responsibility, has care of a child or young person

You care for a child if you are the person who they live with either full or part time, and are responsible for looking after them. You don’t have to be a biological parent or have a legal relationship with a child to care for them.

Looked after children are those who are in the care of a local authority at the time of their application. 

Previously looked after children who were looked after but ceased to be so because they were:

  • adopted
  • subject to a child arrangements order or special guardianship order - Child arrangement orders replace residence orders and any residence order in force prior to 22 April 2014 is deemed to be a child arrangements order.
  • those children who appear (to the admission authority) to have been in state care outside of England and ceased to be in state care as a result of being adopted

Many, but not all admission authorities have criteria to give priority to applicants if there is a strong medical case or exceptional social need.  Exceptional social medical grounds does not cover common childhood complaints or childcare and working arrangements.  It also does not cover a child’s academic ability or a school’s performance.

Some of our schools have an Additionally Resourced Centre. Exceptional social medical grounds only apply to the mainstream school and not the Additionally Resourced Centre which can often only be accessed if your child has an Education Health Care Plan.

If you think that your child has exceptional social or medical reasons that should give them priority at a particular school you must:

  • Tick the relevant box and add your reason notes to your online application
  • Provide independent evidence from a reliable source (for example, a consultant psychologist) marked with your child’s name and date of birth

If you do not send evidence your application will not be considered exceptional social medical grounds but it will be considered against the remaining admission criteria. 

Every January/February our Cabinet Member Advisory Group meet to consider any exceptional reasons supported by evidence from independent professionals for intake applications.  They make their recommendations to Cabinet Member Portfolio holder.

After the decision has been made, we will write to you telling you the priority your application has been given. This is not an offer of a place. If you apply on time you cannot ask for exceptional reasons to be considered by Cabinet Members after the offers have been made unless there are new circumstances. If you are not offered a place at your preferred school you have the right of appeal.

If you make a late application because you could not apply on time, and you think you have exceptional social or medical reasons, you can send evidence to be considered by Cabinet Members. If your application is given exceptional social or medical priority and the school you have applied for is full it does not mean that you will be given a place. . Your child's name will be placed on the waiting list which is kept in strict priority order.

A catchment area is a set area of Solihull. Every community and voluntary-controlled school and some academies and voluntary-aided schools have a catchment area. Living in the catchment area for a school does not guarantee that you will be offered a place.

You can check catchment areas using our Online Maps service.

To receive a school place based on a catchment area your child must live there when your apply and when your child starts school in September.

If you have recently moved house you will need to provide proof of your address. If you are renting a property the tenancy agreement must cover the time of your application until the time of starting school.

Solihull community schools and voluntary controlled and some academies use this definition of a sibling. Other schools may use a different definition. As some schools do not give priority to younger siblings you should check the admission arrangements for your preferred school.

Most schools do not give priority if the older sibling:

  • is in the final year of the school (year 6 or year 11)
  • is in the sixth form of the school

Check the admission arrangements of your preferred school for more details.

The brother or sister must live at the same address and could be:

  • A brother or sister sharing the same parents
  • A half-brother or half-sister, where two children share one parent
  • A stepbrother or stepsister, where two children are related by a parent’s marriage or civil partnership (a formal arrangement that gives same-sex couples the same legal status as married couples)
  • The separate children of a couple who live together, or
  • An adopted or fostered brother or sister.

We will offer twins and other multiple birth children places at the same school if possible.

Some schools give priority to children of staff in either or both of the following circumstances:

  • where the member of staff has been employed at the school for two or more years at the time at which the application for admission to the school is made, and/or
  • the member of staff is recruited to fill a vacant post for which there is a skill shortage

Distance is measured in a straight line from the child's normal home address to their preferred school. Children who live closest to the school will be offered placed first.

The admissions system uses six-figure grid references provided by the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG). The grid references provide a unique point on each property. The grid reference for the school will be the main pedestrian gate if there are more than one.  This is the only measure will use. Distances provided by other websites, such as Google Maps, will not be considered. 

Our Online Maps service can help you find out the distance from an address to a school.