Starting Secondary School

Starting Secondary School

As your child starts back at Primary school in the beginning of Year 6 you will become increasingly aware of the national deadline – 31st October – for applying for their Secondary school place. This is an important deadline, giving parents who apply on time the best chances of successfully applying for their preferred school.

The Secondary admissions process can be confusing and complex – taking time to understand it will make a big difference to the outcome, and make sure you ask for help if you need it.

How does the Secondary school application process work?

All local authorities use a computerised system to exchange details of applications with each other and co-ordinate offers of places to ensure each child is offered only one school with the aim of making the system fairer, with more parents being offered one of their preferred schools.

So what do you need to consider before you apply?

Make sure you attend open days/evenings for any schools of interest, and familiarise yourself with the admission criteria:

  • Not all schools give priority to siblings.
  • Faith schools will give priority to applicants that can demonstrate practice of the respective faith and normally require an additional form to be completed to support the application.
  • Some schools have a priority area and/or feeder primary schools.
  • Distance from home to school is often used as a tie-breaker, but there are schools that use random allocation (lottery). Councils will use their own in-house mapping system to measure distances and some have facilities on their websites which allow you to find your nearest schools.
  • Some schools require your child to sit a fair banding test and then allocate a percentage of places to each assessment band.

Note: if you are in an area with Grammar schools you will need to register your child for the test, usually in the May/June of Year 5. Tests are sat in early September so that you have the results before the application deadline and can prioritise your preferences accordingly. Admission criteria will be applied to all children that pass the test so it is always best to include a non-Grammar alternative as your final preference, especially if you live some distance from the schools.

Look at the allocation data from previous years:

  • How many people applied for the schools you are interested in?
  • How far down the criteria did the council go before allocating the last place?
  • How close to the school did the last child allocated a place live?

Make sure you will be able to get your child to school as usually no assistance will be given if a school is within 3 miles of your home address.

Once you have completed your research make sure you list the schools in the order you would prefer. It is always worth including your nearest non-selective school, or catchment school, as your final preference and make sure you list as many schools as you can, don’t leave a preference blank.

Checks will be made by councils to determine whether an address declared on the application form is that of a second home with the main home being elsewhere, and some residential arrangements will be considered to be temporary arrangements. If the council finds a fraudulent application is being made they will withdraw an offer.

Finally, the school preferences you make are treated equally. The offer you receive will be for the highest preference school that can offer a place to your child when the oversubscription criteria have been applied to all applications and they will be added to the waiting list for any higher preference schools that are over-subscribed.

Need some help or advice? 

Bowker Consulting has helped thousands of families over many years to navigate the school admissions process, and always deliver a friendly, personalised service, to ensure the very best possible outcomes for each family and each child. For relocating families, or those needing some help to understand how to maximise their chances of success for their child’s application, having an experienced Education Consultant working alongside them can make all the difference.

Click here to contact Bowker Consulting today, and find out more about how we can help you!

Article written by Debbie Bowker, October 2019

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