Applying for a secondary school place can be complicated process and it is essential to get it right, especially if you have a clear view as to where you would like your child to go.

Whilst all state school applications must be made via the Local authority, there are often additional forms that need to be completed. In the case of grammar schools and partially selective schools, an exam will also be part of the admissions process.

Key Things to Remember

1. Check that your child meets the criteria attached to all of the schools that you are applying to. The system will not prevent you from applying to schools that your child is not eligible for so if you do not check, you may waste one or more of your options. You are entitled to apply for schools that operate outside of your local authority but must do so via your own local authority who are responsible for passing the application on to the relevant party. The local authority application form is known as the CAF (Common Application Form)

2. State School place allocations can be influenced by number of different things. In addition to priority for those children in the care of the local authority and those children with a Statement of Special Needs, the most common criteria are as follows:

a. Catchment areas
b. Sibling priority
c. Distance
d. 11+ Results / Academic ability
e. Faith and commitment to the faith
f. Music / Sporting ability

3. Admissions criteria can vary from year to year, so never make assumptions based upon previous years and always use the most up to date information published by the local authority and relevant school.

4. Be realistic with your choices. Although your child me be eligible to apply to a school, it does not necessarily mean that they are very likely to be successful especially if the school is not close to where you live. Previous years statistics are available via the local authority and can act as a good sense check.

5. Ensure that you complete ALL of the necessary forms for your chosen schools. Whilst all state schools require a CAF, many schools also require additional forms to be completed. These additional forms are known as SIFs (Supplementary Information Forms). SIFs are generally sent directly to the school that you apply to and are NOT part of the local authority application. Complete all SIFs in full. These form are a critical part of the admissions process and are used by schools to allocate spaces.

6. If you are applying for a Grammar school place you must STILL complete the CAF as well as completing SIFs and registering with the relevant 11+ testing body which may vary from school to school.

7. If you your child is applying to any Grammar schools, they must appear at the top of the priority list on the CAF. You should also include at least one non grammar school back up option on your list which would you would be happy with should your grammar school application be unsuccessful.

8. If you are unsure as to anything involved in the process, contact your local authority. Most local authorities have helplines that can be used. Don’t make assumptions if you are not sure about something!

9. Make a note of all relevant dates and ensure that your application is RECEIVED by all relevant parties on time. It is also advisable to keep copies of all documents that form part of the application just in case anything goes missing and for your own records.

10. Ensure that your child is involved and prepared (especially where they will have to sit entrance examinations.

To find out more about Secondary education options and to apply for places, please click on the relevant area below: