National Offers Day: School Shake-Up Gives Adopted Children Priority Places
All primary-age children are to learn which school they will attend on the same day, under a shake-up that will also see adopted youngsters given priority for places.
In the future, all offers of primary school places will be made on the same day - April 16, ministers announced.
The Government said the move, contained in a new schools admission code, is part of a bid to make the system simpler and fairer for parents.
The new code also includes plans to give adopted youngsters the same priority for school places as they had when they were in care, or "looked after children". Looked after children are currently given the highest priority for school places.
Ministers said the change would benefit around 5,000 children, and claimed it would help speed up the adoption process.
Under the current admissions system, local councils announce primary school allocations on different days, which the Government says can "confuse and frustrate" parents. From 2014, there will be a "national offer day" - similar to the one that exists for secondary school applications - with all families receiving primary school offers on the same day.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said: "A new national offer day for primary schools - as recommended by the Chief Schools Adjudicator - will introduce clarity and consistency in the system for hundreds of thousands of parents.
"Receiving offers on different days is confusing and stressful, especially for parents making cross-border applications to schools in neighbouring local authorities.
"Children in care should continue to be given special priority in school admissions after they have been adopted, or leave care under a special guardianship or residence order. Many of these children have had traumatic experiences in their early lives. They don't stop being vulnerable just because they are now in a loving home.
"This will also speed up some adoptions - we know that some adoption orders are delayed until a child has started school because priority currently ends when that child leaves care."