This page is about admissions criteria for 15 hours a week of free childcare ("universal entitlement") at Merton community school nursery classes. Church of England schools, Catholic schools, academies and schools in other boroughs have different admissions criteria.

It is important you understand the admissions criteria for the schools you will name on your application. The criteria will dictate how likely to it that you will be offered a place.


How applications are considered

Merton's admission process is an "equal preference" scheme. This means that if your child is unsuccessful at your first preference school, they will not be overlooked by your second preference school.

If there are more applicants for a nursery class than places available, all applications will be ranked. Admissions criteria are the rules by which applications are ranked.

Once all applications have been ranked we can see if a child's name is high enough on a ranking list to be offered a nursery class place. If a child can be offered a place at more than one school we will offer a place at whichever of these schools is the higher preference.

With the exception of Dundonald and Wimbledon Chase school nursery classes, applications for entry in 2018/2019 will be ranked against the following factors:

  1. Looked after children or previously looked after children (see notes on looked after children below)
  2. Where there are professionally supported medical reasons or exceptional social reasons why a child should attend a particular school (see notes on medical and social reasons below)
  3. Where a sibling is already in the main school at the time of admission (see notes on siblings below)
  4. Straight line distance between the child's home address and the main school (see notes on distance below)

For Wimbledon Chase and Dundonald Primary Schools only:

  1. Looked after children or previously looked after children (see notes on looked after children below)
  2. Where there are professionally supported medical reasons or exceptional social reasons why a child should attend a particular school (see notes on medical and social reasons below)
  3. Where a sibling is already in the main school at the time of admission, and lives within the admissions priority area. This includes protected families with siblings, or linked siblings, attending the school prior to 1 September 2016. (see notes on siblings below)
  4. Children living inside the admissions priority area in order of nearness of home to the school by straight line distance. (see details of admissions priority area and distance below)
  5. Where a sibling is already in the main school at the time of admission, and lives outside the admissions priority area (see notes on siblings below)
  6. Children living outside of the admissions priority area in order of nearness of home to the school by straight line distance (see notes on distance below)


Looked-after children

A looked after child is a child who is (a) in the care of a local authority, or (b) being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services functions (see definition in section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989). A previously looked after child is a child who was adopted, or subject to a residence order, or special guardianship order, immediately following having been looked after.


Medical and social reasons

Applicants wishing to be considered under this criterion must supply professional evidence supporting their case at the time of application. Providing evidence does not guarantee priority under this criterion; the School Admissions Team will consider if the evidence provided demonstrates that the child must attend a particular school and cannot reasonably attend an alternative school. Applicants will not be individually advised if their application has been prioritised under this criterion.



Sibling refers to brother or sister, half brother or sister, adopted brother or sister, step brother or sister, or the child of the parent/carer's partner, and in every case, who is living as part of the same family unit at the same address, Monday to Friday. This does not include children currently registered at the school, but who will have moved on to secondary school when the child is due to begin in the nursery class.

For Wimbledon Chase and Dundonald Primary Schools, where the older sibling was offered a place prior to 1 September 2016, they will be considered under priority 3 for Reception. This also applies to any linked sibling i.e. where a sibling has qualified on this basis, future siblings will also receive the same priority providing the parent/carer specifies this at the time of application.


Distance measurement

All distances will be measured by the computerised Geographical Information System maintained by Merton Admissions team. It should be noted that the computerised system measures from a start point plotted within the property at which the applicant lives to the main school reception entrance and calculates this measurement.

The child's home address excludes any business, relative's or childminder's address and must be the applicant's normal place of residence. If there is a genuine equal share custody arrangement between the two parents, the address that will be used will normally be the address of the parent who is claiming Child Benefit for the child, however all available evidence will be considered.

The address to be used for the initial allocation of places to Primary School (Reception) will be the child's address at the closing date for application. Any offer is conditional upon the child living at the appropriate address on the relevant date. Parents have a responsibility to notify the Local Authority of any change of address.

Please note:

  • Applicants in short term rented accommodation may be asked to provide evidence of their current and former housing arrangements.
  • Where an applicant has ownership of a property, that should be used for the purposes of school admission and the applicant must provide evidence and reasons for the use of any other address.
  • Where an applicant rents a property and has ownership of an alternative property, the rented property will only be used for admission purposes if the child has been resident away from the owned property for a period of 3 years or more at the closing date for applications.
  • Any applicant who moves from a rented or temporary address in advance of their child taking up their school place may have their place withdrawn if it is found the family have returned to an address already in their ownership.
  • The authority will investigate whether the place should be withdrawn if the pupil is not resident at the application address at the time of the September entry point.
  • The authority will always investigate a case where the application address has previously been used to gain a school place fraudulently.
  • Where it is found an address has been used for the purposes of admission where the child is not ordinarily resident, the application and any place offered will be withdrawn.
  • An offer found to have been gained fraudulently will be withdrawn. This may also be the case where the child has started the school.
  • In some cases, places may not be withdrawn once a child has been attending the school for a term or more. In these circumstances future sibling applications will not be given sibling priority for places and will be considered under the next appropriate criterion.
  • Where more than one applicant has the same straight line distance measurement and distance is the determining factor, rank order will be determined by random allocation.

Applicants wishing to query a distance from home to school should contact the School Admissions Team at

In cases where a distance calculation is disputed applicants should write to the School Admissions Manager, London Borough of Merton,10th Floor, Civic Centre, Morden SM4 5DX. All disputes will be investigated. Where it is agreed that the basis of the calculation was incorrect the measurement will be recalculated. The calculation will be re-run for both the applicant in question and any other applicant shown to be affected by the issue.


Waiting lists

Children who cannot be offered a place will be added to a waiting list, providing they have not been offered a place in the nursery class at their highest choice school. Waiting lists are kept in the same order as the admissions criteria of the school.

You will be automatically added to the waiting list for the nursery class at your first choice school, even if you have been offered a place at your second choice school. Details of waiting list arrangements will be included with your outcome notification if you do not receive an offer for your first choice school.

Waiting lists can change; for example, if a child moves into the area after the places have been given out, their name will be added to the waiting list. If they live closer to the chosen school than you do, or their circumstances mean they are ranked more highly under the admissions criteria, their name may go above your child on the waiting list. Once your child's name reaches the top of the waiting list, if a place becomes free, you will be offered a place.

The term starting April 2020 is the last term of the school year. Nursery class places for April 2020 will not be offered until late February 2020 as they may all be taken by children eligible to start earlier in the school year. If your chosen school has no places for April 2020, you will be automatically considered for September 2020 entry and there is no need to reapply. If this applies to you and you receive an offer for September 2020, you can apply for a funded place at a private nursery, preschool or with a childminder for the April to July 2020 term.



School Admissions Team
Civic Centre