Questions about applying for a school place

All primary and secondary schools run by Aberdeen City Council serve a local ‘zone’ which has been determined by the Council. Zones help us to make sure that school places are available for local children. They also help us to assess the right to school transport. Some of our zones include parts of Aberdeenshire, although these are very limited.

When you apply for a place online we will automatically find your zoned school if you live in Aberdeen City and your property is on the map. For some new builds and for addresses in Aberdeenshire zoned for Aberdeen City schools, you will need to enter your address manually and select your Zoned School to apply there. This does not affect how we make our decision.

You can check which zone you live in by using our online school zone map. Enter your postcode to check your zone.

To be considered as living in the zone for a school, your child must meet one of the three criteria below. They should:

  • Be living with their parent(s)/guardian(s) in the school zone before 15 March (‘ordinarily resident’).
  • Have a sibling at the school but now live out-of-zone for that school because we have since changed the school zone (this will only apply where the sibling is still attending the school).
  • Have additional support needs which have been previously assessed by an Educational Psychologist of Aberdeen City Council and that the child’s needs can only be met at a specified school.

We may vary school zones from time to time to take into account demographic or other changes. This will be done according to local and national consultation guidelines and requirements. If we have moved your address out of zone and you wish your younger children to attend the same school which your older children are attending (and will still be attending) because it was their zoned school when they enrolled, your younger children will still have the right to attend that school and be considered in zone.

You need to apply for a school place online. There is just one form to use which will let you apply for any school, year group or term. You need to complete this whether you’re applying to start school for the first time or to move between schools.

You will need to set up an online account with us so that you can track your application. If you need support completing an application using our online form, you can visit your local library where staff will be able to help you.

You should only submit one application for each child. If you are applying for more than one school, this should be done on the same application form. You should wait until we have finished considering any current applications from you before submitting any more.

You will need to provide us with evidence of where you live, your child’s birth certificate and any other information specific to your case. These should be uploaded to the form when you apply. We will accept photographs of documents as long as we can see the whole document clearly.

The application process has six stages:

  • Apply for a place at a school – this is the form you will fill in to apply for your child’s place.
  • Assess evidence – this is where our Customer Applications team checks that your evidence is valid and meets our requirements.
  • Find a place – the headteacher of your chosen school will assess your application and decide whether to offer you a place.
  • Quality control – some applications will need a second person to check the decision before we let you know.
  • Offer and additional information – you will need to complete a form to accept or decline your offer of a place, and to provide us with information we need to enrol your child.
  • Create a child record – the school will now enter your child’s details into their systems and send out any school specific information to you.

You can check which stage your application is at by logging in to your online account and clicking on “MyRequests”.

Most children go to their zoned school. You have the right to apply for a place at any Aberdeen City Council school (known as a ‘placing request’), but if you do not apply for your zoned school we may not be able to provide you with a place there. If your child is not currently in a school, we advise that you apply for both your zoned school and your preferred school. If your child currently attends an out-of-zone school and you want to move them to their zoned school, you will need to apply for a place there (except during the transition from primary to secondary school).

You can apply to as many schools as you wish and should do this on the same application.

We accept applications for school places for admission or transfer at any time of year, not just at the start of the school year.

We will assess your application based on the preference you have assigned to each school. We begin by looking at your first preference and trying to find you a place there. If no place can be offered (or you refuse the place we offer you) we will look at your second preference. This will continue until you have no preferences left. If we offer you a place and you accept it, we will not look at any lower preference schools on your application.

You will be notified each time you are given an offer or refused a place at any school.

You can apply for any of our mainstream primary schools (P1-P7) or secondary schools (S1-S6). You can also apply for other types of specialist provision such as those below.

Denominational schools

Denominational (Roman Catholic) primary schools have much larger catchment areas across the city. When you apply for a place your default Zoned School will not be a Roman Catholic school, so you will need to select the option to apply for a different school if you want your child to attend such a school. If your child has a Roman Catholic Baptism Certificate, they will be given priority over those who don’t.

Gaelic medium schools

If you would like your child to be educated in Gaelic, you can use the online form to apply for a place at a Gaelic medium school. Find out more about Gaelic education in Aberdeen

Special schools

If you wish to apply for a special school (e.g. Aberdeen School for the Deaf), you can do this online. Tell us about any special circumstances in your application form and we will discuss the best options for your child with you. Ideally you should discuss your needs with your current school so that they can identify any specialist support your child may need.

We may need to contact you to approve any evidence you have submitted or request more information. This will be by email or telephone so make sure your details are correct.

If your child was deferred you will need to upload evidence of the deferral on the “evidence” tab on the form.

If your child was deferred based on a birthday in October to December you should have a letter, but if the was deferral was based on a birthday in January - February you will not have a letter to upload.

If you do not have a letter you can add a note to the form explaining that your child was deferred. The Council will then correct it on your application.

If you are moving from outside Aberdeen then you will not be able to apply for a place until you have moved to Aberdeen. If you are moving house and wish to apply using your new address, we can only assess your application once you have moved to the new address. This applies whether you live in Aberdeen City or not. We do not give out provisional places to people who have not yet moved.

To make sure that there is a place in our schools for every child living in Aberdeen, we encourage everyone to apply for their Zoned School. We are unlikely to be able to offer places to children living outside of Aberdeen or who have not yet moved to Aberdeen without exceptional circumstances.

If you have been offered a place at a Special School not run by Aberdeen City Council and are seeking funding from the Council for this place, you should make a placing request. You should use the online placing request form as if you were applying for any other Aberdeen City Council school. When you are asked which school you wish to apply for, you should select “Special school (not run by Aberdeen City Council)”.

You must inform us if you are enrolling your child at a Special School not run by us. We have a duty to check that all children are in education. This means we need to keep a record that your child is being educated elsewhere.

To notify us that you are attending a Special School without applying for funding, you can use our online “notification of special school” form to tell us where your child is being educated and provide us with proof of your offer.

You can only use the online form to apply for a place at schools which are run by Aberdeen City Council.

However, you must inform us if you are enrolling your child at an independent school. We have a duty to check that all children are in education. This means we need to keep a record that your child is being educated elsewhere.

To notify us that your child is attending an independent school, you can use our online form to tell us where your child is being educated and provide us with proof of your offer. Some independent schools may inform us on your behalf – you should check if this is the case.

We assess applications in order based on four priorities. These are:

  • Priority 1 – Your child is moving into a zone after 15 March in a given year or already lives in the zone but isn’t attending the zoned school. Where you have more than one property, it is the child’s main family home which applies to this priority.
  • Priority 2 – Where an older sibling is already attending the school you are applying to and will be in continuing education at the school when your child begins attending
  • Priority 3 – You are currently taking your child to a childminder (including family other than parents) who lives in the school zone, because you are working. Your child must currently be receiving childcare from that person and will continue to do so when your child begins attending the school.
  • Priority 4 – Where none of the above applies, priority is given to those who live within Aberdeen City.

Applicants in Priority 1 are ordered based on the date you move into the zone or the date we receive the application, whichever is later. We will not consider your application until you have moved. All other priorities are ordered by distance between your child’s address and the school.

For each of these priorities we will need to check that you have evidence. This can include proof of address, checking your child’s sibling’s school record, checking with your current school, or contacting your childminder to confirm the arrangement.

You can also let us know about any special circumstances you would like us to consider when making your application.

The above guidelines will normally apply, however, placing requests may be granted where exceptional circumstances exist.

The headteacher of the school you have applied for will normally decide whether or not your child will be offered a place. They will look at the number of places available in the school, what additional support your child might need, and whether offering you a place means they need to make any changes in the school (e.g. a new teacher). They will take into consideration any evidence you have uploaded.

The decision may involve other professionals such as educational psychologists, children’s social workers, quality improvement officers and inclusion specialists. This will help the headteacher to make their final decision.

You will get an email to let you know the what the decision is.

You will receive an acknowledgement email as soon as we receive your application. We will assess your application based on the order of your preferences and will check any evidence you have uploaded.

We try to give you a decision on school places as soon as possible. Applications for entry to P1 in your zoned school made during January should be dealt with straight away. If your application is late, we cannot guarantee a place at your zoned school. 

If your application for the August term was received on time, it will be assessed after the deadline and no later than 15 May. We will email you to let you know the outcome of your application. To check the status of your application, log into your online services account and select “My Requests”.

If your application for the August term was received after the deadline, you will not be assessed until all of the applications that were submitted on time have been looked at. This may mean that you do not receive a response until the summer, so please try to apply before the deadline. 

If your application was a placing request for any other term, we will respond within two months. After this time your application is considered to have been ‘refused’ and you can exercise your right of appeal (although we may still offer a place if one becomes available).

If you are offered a place you will need to log into your online account to accept it and provide us with further information. You should do this as soon as possible and within a week of receiving the offer.

If you are refused a place at a school because we do not have the capacity to take your child, we may hold you on a waiting list. Find out more about how we manage waiting lists and how you can check your place on one

The law says that we can refuse a placing request in terms of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 as amended, if placing your child in a requested school would:

  1. Make it necessary for the us to take an additional teacher into employment.
  2. Give rise to significant expenditure on extending, or otherwise altering, the accommodation at, or facilities provided in connection with, the school.
  3. Be seriously detrimental to the continuity of your child’s education.
  4. Be likely to be seriously detrimental to order and discipline in the school.
  5. Be likely to be seriously detrimental to the educational wellbeing of the pupils attending the school.
  6. Assuming that pupil numbers remain constant, make it necessary at the commencement of a future stage of your child’s primary education, for us to elect either to create an additional class (or an additional composite class) in the specified school or to take an additional teacher into employment at that school.
  7. Even if neither of the tests set out in bullet points 1 and 2 above is satisfied, have the consequence that the capacity of the school would be exceeded in terms of pupil numbers.

We may also refuse a placing request if:

  • The education normally provided at the specified school is not suited to the age, ability or aptitude of your child.
  • We have already required your child to discontinue their attendance at the specified school.
  • The specified school is a special school and your child does not have additional support needs requiring the special educational facilities normally provided at the school.

The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 as amended allows us to reserve places in certain schools if it anticipates that those places will be required for families moving into an area. This currently applies only to specified secondary and primary schools. We will cap the rolls of certain primary and secondary schools within the city to limit the pupil numbers where experience has shown that they will otherwise exceed capacity.

If you are not happy with the decision we have made about a school place, you have the right to make an appeal to the School Placings and Exclusions Appeal Committee, which acts as an independent panel. See the Appeal against a school place decision page for more information. 

If you have any other queries or need more information then please email the Customer Applications team on

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