Choosing a School

How do I choose a school for my child?

All Aberdeenshire schools serve a local 'zone'. Pupils will automatically be accepted at the school within their 'zone'. However, parents have the right to request that their child attends a school in another 'zone' if they wish (without giving any particular reason) and Aberdeenshire Council will, where possible, agree to this of page

How can I find out about the different schools?

Each school produces an annual prospectus, giving information such as exam results, attendance levels, policy on special needs and policy on moral, spiritual, social and cultural values. The prospectus is available from 15 December each year and can be requested from the Head Teacher. Aberdeenshire Council would also advise you to visit the school with your of page

How do I enrol my child at school?

If you want to enrol your child at a particular school, you should approach the Head Teacher of that school and he/she will be able to advise you of page

When will my child start school?

Aberdeenshire Education and Children's Services has a uniform starting date for all its schools in the middle of August in any particular year. You will be informed of this year’s starting date at the time of registering at school.

All children who will be five, up to and including the last day of February, may be admitted in August of that year. All children who will reach the age of five on or before the first day of the school year in August should begin to attend primary school in August.  Children who reach the age of five after the first day of the school year but before the last day of February the following year may also be registered for primary school in August. Parents of children who reach the age of five in January and February of the following year have a right to delay their child’s entry to primary 1. Parents of children, who will reach the age of five from August to the end of December, can request a delayed entry to commence primary 1. These parents must discuss this with the primary school where they intend to register their child for primary 1.

Aberdeenshire Education and Children's Services makes no provision to admit children who are five after the February closing date, unless that child has previously been registered and has commenced full-time attendance (excluding induction) at an early stages class in a state supported or Forces school and is transferring into Aberdeenshire. In this case, the Quality Improvement Officer can exercise discretion. Registration in a nursery or playgroup does not count for the purposes of this of page Details for registration for primary one can be found on the Primary School Registration page.

What do I do if I want my child to attend a school outside of his/her local zone?

You are quite within your rights to request this and Aberdeenshire Council will make every effort to accommodate your request. Firstly, you should speak to the Head Teacher of the school you want your child to attend. You will be required to complete a form and send it to the Learning Estates Team. They will then determine if the school has enough pupil places for your application to be accepted. The application form is also available to download below.

Making an Out of Zone Application

Applications for entry to a school in August of any one year which are received up to 15 March in that year will be given first consideration. All placing requests made on or after 16 March for admission in August of that year will be considered and decided after the requests made on or before 15 March have been decided and notified.

Consideration of Request

Where the number of registrations exceeds the places available in any particular school, all placing requests will be considered in accordance with Aberdeenshire Council’s list of priorities as follows:

a) Residence

Residents within Aberdeenshire will take priority over those living outwith the Council area. The vast majority of out-of-zone applicants are residents of Aberdeenshire and therefore qualification under this category has no effect on the final decision.

b) Children in Need

The Authority will give priority to children who, in terms of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, would be considered to be ‘Children in Need’ and where there are reasons why the child’s needs can be better met in the school requested than in the school which serves the area in which the child lives. Children in Need is a broad concept and includes needs which arise from medical, psychological and social reasons but are not limited to these categories. Children may be considered to be in need as a result of the disability of another member of their household.

Where Aberdeenshire Council is asked to give priority to a child on this basis, it will seek the advice of an Educational Psychologist, Medical Practitioner, Social Worker or other agency according to the nature of the need. The Council will treat all such cases on their individual merits.

c) Local Conditions

Where road conditions, weather conditions or other local conditions constitute a severe hazard to the child.

d) Sibling Attending School

Where another member of the family is already in attendance at the specified school.

e) Social

Where both parents are working and transport the child outwith the zone in which they are resident in order that that child be cared for by a responsible adult outwith school hours.

f) Other Reasons

Such other reasons as may be deemed appropriate by the deciding officer.

You may write to the Learning Estates Team to state your case for consideration under any of the above headings. You are not required to give reasons but a system of priorities can only be applied if you have given your reasons.

Decision on Application

The Learning Estates Team will endeavour to make a decision on your request as soon as possible and will give you written notification of their decision not later than 30 April in the case of all children for whom application is being made for entry to school at the beginning of the following session and the placing request was received on or before 15 March. In all other cases they will endeavour to give written notification within two months of receiving the placing request. If you have not been notified in writing of the decision within the times specified above you may deem your request to be refused.

Parents whose placing request is approved by Aberdeenshire Council will be expected to make and meet the cost of any transport arrangements arising out of the child attending a school other than that serving the delinated area.

Refused Applications

Aberdeenshire Education and Children's Services will endeavour to meet your placing request but may refuse it on the following grounds:

• If accepting the request would mean that the capacity of the school would be exceeded in terms of pupil numbers.

• If to do so the Council would have to employ an additional teacher or spend a substantial sum of money at the point of admission, for example, where they would have to provide an additional classroom.

• If accepting the request would make it necessary for the Council to create an additional class or employ an additional teacher at a future stage of a child’s primary education.

• If accepting the request would prevent the Council reserving a place at the school for a child likely to move into the area of the school in-year.

• If a child’s education would suffer from a change of school.

• If education in the school requested would not be suitable to the age, ability or aptitude of the child. This might apply if parents want their child to be admitted to a stage of education for which the child is not yet ready, or to a school which cannot meet the child’s needs.

• If Council officers think that a child can only be provided for in the school requested at the expense of the other pupils’ education.

• If the school requested has been provided for children with additional support needs, and council officers thinks that a child does not need the special equipment or specially trained staff they have provided in that school.

• If a child is excluded from a school, the council is not bound to re-admit him or her. If a child has been in constant trouble, and his or her parents ask for them to be moved to another school, the council can refuse to provide a place if they think that he or she would be likely to disturb the order and discipline in that school, or the educational well-being of pupils attending the school. They may indeed suggest another school better able to cope with the child.

The Right of Appeal

You may refer any refusal of your placing request to an Appeals Committee which will normally comprise five persons two of whom will be Aberdeenshire Councillors.

Parents have the right of appeal against decisions made regarding placing requests. Your appeal must be lodged with the Appeals Committee within 28 days of receipt of the letter of refusal.

It should be borne in mind that;

  • you cannot appeal against the refusal of a place in a nursery school or nursery class.
  • you can appeal only once a year for each of your children.
  • you must appeal no later than 28 days after you receive Aberdeenshire Education and Children's Services' letter of refusal.

How to Appeal

You should send a letter of appeal, giving the child’s full name, the school you wish to attend and your reasons for appealing against the decision, to the Director of Business Services, Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen AB16 5GB.

Information about the appeals procedure will be available from the Quality Improvement Officer, who will be able to answer any queries about the procedures for considering requests.

School Transport to a School Outwith Your Local School Zone

Where a child is registered in a school outwith their local school zone, the parent is responsible for making transport arrangements and for meeting all costs involved, except in very limited cases where the Quality Improvement Officer for the school has discretion to grant travel costs.

Travel costs would only be granted where the Quality Improvement Officer accepts that, in the first instance, the reason given by the parent for not registering the child in the zoned school is educational or medical/psychological and/or that it is reasonable to agree to the request.

Of course, the Quality Improvement Officer must have regard to any safety issues drawn to his/her attention by parents when considering requests for discretionary transport. Free transport will only be provided in this case where provision can be made within existing travel arrangements.

top of page

How will my child get to school?

Aberdeenshire Council provides free home-to-school transport for primary and secondary pupils who attend the school within their local 'zone'. This means that all primary pupils who live more than two miles from their school and all secondary pupils who live more than three miles from their school are entitled to free transport.

Except in limited cases (see page 10 of 'Notes for Parents'),there is no provision of free transport to pupils who attend a school outside of their local 'zone'. top of page

Contact Us

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the Learning Estates Team by emailing

The full policy and application form can be found below

Out of Zone Placing Request Policy (December 2015)

Out of Zone Placing Request Application Form

Help us improve