The application process explained

Applying to secondary school for the first time can be an anxious time for families. 


But if you always keep in mind how your application will be considered and the deadline you are working to, there is no reason at all why it can’t be a smooth process. 


It will begin with letters sent out by councils detailing the steps you need to take with the relevant information. They always encourage parents to apply online, but paper applications will be available if you prefer. Each council co-ordinates admissions for all maintained schools in its area and will make the offer of places. Up to six choices can be stated on the admissions application, depending on where you live, in order of preference and they can include schools outside the area. 


Places are not allocated on a first come, first-served basis. All schools will consider applicants on an equal basis and parents are advised to put forward more than one choice. Also, all applications will be considered against the admissions policy of the school concerned, regardless of which borough or county the child resides in. 


The entrance criteria will depend on how the school is run – whether it’s the council, governing body or a trust. 

Faith schools are, as with other maintained schools, required to offer every child who applies, whether of the faith, another faith or no faith, a place at the school if there are places available. But where the school is oversubscribed, these schools allocate places by reference to faith based on their admissions criteria. If a child meets the criteria for two or more schools included on the application form, they will be allocated a place at the school that the parent ranked highest. For community or state schools, first priority is given to children in public care, have been adopted or become subject to a child arrangement order or special guardianship order. 


Second priority will consider children with a ‘serious ongoing medical condition’ and third priority is given to children who have a sibling or half-sibling or stepbrother/ step sister, living at the same address and who will still be attending the preferred school in September 2021. Any places that remain available once the above applicants have been admitted, will be filled according to those children who live closest, determined by a straight-line measurement in metres, from the home address to the entrance of the school.


Frequently Asked Questions


Will my child automatically transfer from primary into secondary school? 


No, this is not the case. All applications have to be considered in line with the admissions criteria only. There is normally no priority given to children attending primary schools associated with particular secondary schools. 


What is the deadline for applications to be submitted? 


Applications can be done by post or online. The closing date for secondary school applications is statutory and is October 31. Offer letters, or emails, will be sent out on March 1, 2021. 


What happens if I submit my application after the deadline? 


Unless there were special circumstances, which stopped you from applying before the closing date, then your application will only be considered after those that were received before the deadline. If there were special circumstances then supportive evidence must be provided at the time of your application. 


What happens if I don’t complete and return an application form? 


Your child may not be allocated a school place until all those who did have been offered places. It is then possible that your preferred schools will be too full to admit your child.


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