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Secondary School Admissions

Autumn is the time when leaves fall from the trees and thoughts should turn to Secondary School Admissions.  If your child is due to transfer from Primary to Secondary School in September 2014 you need to make an application for a place by 31 October 2013; however, the start date for applications will vary, depending on the Council.   

The Law

  • Section 84 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 introduced the School Admissions Code (“the Code”). The current Code has been in force since 1 February 2012 and applies to all maintained schools in England, as well as to Academies (although the Secretary of State has the power to vary this requirement in certain circumstances).
  • The Code imposes mandatory requirements and guidance about how the Admission Authorities of Maintained Schools, Governing bodies and Local Authorities (when they are not the Admission Authorities); and Admission Appeal Panels can properly discharge their duties when dealing with the admission process. These groups have a mandatory duty to adhere to the relevant part of the Code.
  • All schools must have admissions arrangements that detail how children will be admitted and information about the criteria that will be used if there are more applicants than there are places. The admission arrangements are determined by the Admission Authority and must be published annually.
  • Different types of school have different Admission Authorities (namely, the Academy Trust for Academies, the Local Authority for Community Schools and Voluntary Controlled Schools; and the Governing Body for Foundation Schools and Voluntary Aided Schools). 

The Process

  • If you want your child to go to an Independent School, you must apply directly to the particular school.
  • In respect of other schools, applications are made to the Local Authority where you are resident, even if you want to make an application to a school that is within a different Local Authority area.
  • Most Local Authorities offer an application process through an e-portal system; but if you would prefer to make a paper-based application, you can ask the Local Authority directly; remember to take a copy, for your own records.  You can select at least three schools and up to six schools.

Some Tips:

  • Familiarise yourself with the Admissions criteria for each school that you want to apply to; this includes working out the likelihood of your preferred school being oversubscribed. Admissions criteria vary for each school; for example, certain schools prioritise applicants who live closest to the school, or have siblings who are already at the school. Others may give preference to children who follow a particular faith, or who went to a Primary School that feeds into the Secondary School. The key is to read the admission criteria carefully.
  • Be aware that some schools have a Supplementary Application form; certainly, Faith and Free Schools will have additional points to take into consideration when making an application.
  • It is vitally important to remember to obtain all applicable evidence in support the admission criteria that apply to you. For example, if your child has a social/medical need, make sure you obtain up to date evidence to substantiate this; such as a letter from a Medical Professional or Social Worker. 
  • Ensure that your personal contact details and home address are accurate at the date of making the application and that you keep the Local Authority appraised of any changes.  Given the pressure on school places it is more important than ever before to follow every step to the letter.  

The onus is on you to inform yourself about the process; ignorance is no defence in law. Leave yourself enough time to inform yourself about the process; hopefully, this will lead to you securing the school of your choice.

The Council will share the results on 1 March 2014.  If you do not get offered your preferred school, remember, you can submit an appeal. Knowledge is power and, especially in the competitive world of securing Secondary School places, make sure you always obtain expert legal advice. We are here to assist should you require any advice during this sometimes stressful and difficult time. 


  • Access all available information
  • Provide up to date information on the application form, and keep this updated
  • Prepare the application carefully, and supply relevant evidence
  • Look at the Code on the Department for Education website 
  • Secure the best possible outcome for your child by making a timely and informed application

All testimonials


Whilst the SENDIST appeal process requires patience and clarity, we found Match Solicitors provided a faultless service. Diligent whilst being understanding. Our son is now in the school we required and is thriving due to the support of Match Solicitors throughout the process.

Mr D Cameron, London

The service was first class and I was encouraged by the Solicitors sound knowledge of education law. Having a child with special needs is a challenge to any parent and the whole process of going to an educational tribunal can be quite daunting. Match Solicitors was able to get the job done professionally and to the highest standard and yet still retaining a very caring and human side which was very reassuring.

Mrs O Akagbosu, London

the service I received from yourselves - and consistency - is the best I have experienced in dealing with any solicitors.

Miss E Field, London