How to make the best Secondary School Application for 2019
Parents with children due to start secondary school next September 2019 will be getting letters this week giving them the information they need about the secondary school application process. All applications with supporting evidence have to be submitted by the deadline of 31st October 2019.
Secondary School Application to your catchment school
Research your local catchment school.
Find the link for the last Ofsted report and look at that. If you are considering your local catchment secondary school and you attend a feeder primary school, your prospects of securing a place at your local secondary school are good – but not assured.
We have previously, for example, we conducted a number of appeals for parents who live within the catchment area for the Nottingham Free School in Sherwood. This was a school established to cover both the Sherwood and Mapperley areas of Nottingham.
The school is extremely popular and therefore oversubscribed. However, with an intake of only 90 pupils for year 7, these places are filled up by those with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), looked after children, those with siblings already at the school. Finally, the last places are awarded to those closest to the school who are in catchment.
For the 2017 intake, those that lived beyond half a mile from the school but still well within catchment were discovering that they were not offered a place as all l90 places had already been filled.
Living within a catchment area will not always guarantee a place, although the best chance of a successful secondary school application will still be an application to your local feeder secondary school. For most parents, if they are satisfied with the catchment school’s Ofsted report and their child knows other children going, the decision of which school to apply to may be a simple one.
What if your local school is not the one you want your child to go to?
Research the nearest schools to you. Look on the council website to see if the school you would prefer has been oversubscribed in the last few years. If it has not, your prospects of success increase.
Look at the over-subscription admission criteria for the school.
Lots of schools, especially academy schools, are their own admission authority. This means that they set their own over subscription criteria instead of using the local authority criteria. Although in many cases the criteria might be similar, the criteria will be published on the school’s own website.
For instance, two popular schools in Nottingham – the West Bridgford High School and Rushcliffe School – both belong to different academy trusts. They set their own criteria and for each school they are different.
Some secondary schools still follow the admissions criteria set by the local authority. This will be either a city or county council. There will be a link through to the council website from the school website.
Parents will need to consider where their particular circumstances place the child within the over subscription criteria. They will need to work out which of their chosen schools place them the highest and put that school as first choice in the secondary school application.
Consider any special criteria
Are there special criteria listed which might give you priority? This could include specific medical or social needs. It could be that priority is given to families in the armed forces. If so, state that you are applying under that criterion and attach as much evidence to support your application as possible.
Is there an aptitude test that the school offers prospective students as part of its over subscription criteria? If so, consider entering your child for that test. Please be aware, however, that your child could do exceptionally well in the test and still not be guaranteed a place at the school. This is because priority will, in most cases, still be given to in catchment children. This can reduce the number of aptitude test places available.
When you fill in your application form
Only put schools down that you would be happy for your child to attend. If you do not get your first choice, then your second, third or fourth preference may be offered. As a result, it is important that you are happy with these. You do not need to make all four choices. It is simply a recommendation.
When you state your reasons for choosing your first-choice school, make sure that you have thought about how you can match your reasons to the over subscription criteria.
If the school is a religious school, make sure that you describe your religious connections and attach evidence.
Where a secondary school application is made because a child has first completed a technology, sport or musical aptitude test then you should describe why this school is the only one that meets your child’s needs. This will be even more important if the school is not your catchment school.
If you have a sibling already at the secondary school of your choice please remember to give details. Nottinghamshire County Council has re-instated the out of catchment sibling criterion for 2018 places.
Who will receive preference in over-subscribed schools?
Those academies that set their own admissions criteria separate from a local authority might not give preference to pupils out of catchment even where they already have a sibling at the school. Parents must be prepared to supply evidence in support of an out of catchment child securing a place ready for any appeal.
Those parents who research all of their local options are more likely to be successful in the application process. This is because they will have considered their chances of getting a place at any given school. This will have been through looking at the admission criteria, deciding whether the school is likely to be oversubscribed and giving as much detail and evidence as they can in support of their application.
Results announced March 2019
Results for secondary school places will be sent by e mail at the beginning of March 2018 to parents who applied on line and by second class post to those that made a postal application.
If your child is not successful in obtaining their chosen place, you do have the right to appeal. There is, however, no guarantee of success with an appeal. By preparing your application at the point you submit it you will improve your chances of being successful at the time you make your application for secondary school admission. The research you have done in advance will also help with any subsequent appeal.
Early preparation will reduce the chances of an absolute headache for you and your child in March 2019.
Contact an education law specialist
If you have any questions about your secondary school application or school admissions then please contact education law solicitor Clare Roberts.
Call her on 01115 9599550 or use the contact form below.