Moving up to secondary school

4/12/2021 6:17:02 PM

4. Getting the order of your preferences right

If you live in Buckinghamshire, you can put up to six schools on your application. Make sure you complete your application carefully because this will give us the information we need to work out where your child will be on the list for each of the schools you have put down.

We use an ‘Equal Preference Scheme’ to decide which school can be offered to your child. This means that when we are making decisions, we don’t take into account the order (1 to 6) that you have put the schools in on your application; we will just list all children according to the admission rules for each school. It is as though you’ve made up to six separate applications to your preferred schools.

We can only offer a child one school place at any one time. When we are allocating places, if we can offer your child more than one school, we will always offer your child a place at the school you have put higher on your application. This is why the order you put the schools in is so important and why you should always put them in the order you really want them. Details of previous year’s offers are available on both our Statistics page and in each school’s entry in Find my child a school place. Make sure you also understand the School Transport rules.

Make sure you enter your school preferences carefully – some schools have similar names.  We will not question preferences as parents may have a strong preference for a school that is a significant distance from their home as they work close by or are moving to that area.

You do not have to include a catchment school but it is a good idea if you want a local school. You have a greater chance (but not a guarantee) of being offered a place at your catchment school if you have included it as a preference. You should list your preferences in the order you would like them to be considered. 

Here are some examples of what might happen if you do not include a catchment school in your application.

If your child is taking the Secondary Transfer Test in late October/early November 2020, you will  not know the results before the application deadline - see the timeline.  This means it is very important to understand that:

  • You should list grammar schools on your application in case your child qualifies for a grammar school and your preference is for a grammar school.
  • When completing your application, it is best to put any grammar school preference above any upper/all-ability school preference.
  • We recommend you always include an upper/all ability school on your application.
  • If you put an upper/all-ability school above a grammar school on your application and your child then qualifies for a grammar school, and we can offer a place at the upper / all-ability school then we will. Think carefully about your preference order, it needs to be your true preference order.
  • If your preferred school is a Buckinghamshire upper / all-ability school or a school in another area, then you need not include a Buckinghamshire grammar school on your application.
  • In case your child does not qualify for a grammar school, but your preferred school is still a grammar school, then in order to continue pursuing this option, you must include a grammar school preference on your application. You may then request a Selection Review or, from 1 March 2021 (National Offer Day) onwards, an admission appeal. When completing your application, it is best to put any grammar school preference above any upper/all-ability school preference.

At the time secondary school places are allocated on 1 March 2021, if your child has not qualified for a grammar school and you have included grammar school preferences on your application, we will automatically refuse them. However, you will be entitled to appeal this refusal. If you have not included a grammar school preference on your application then you will not be able to appeal for that school, as it is the refusal of a place on 1 March that triggers the right of appeal.

More information on appeals

Even if you think your child will qualify for a grammar school, via the tests or through the review/appeal process, we always recommend that you include an upper/all-ability school somewhere on your application.

We won’t tell any school where you listed it on your application before we offer places.

Apply for a secondary school place

Print entire guide

Last updated: 12 April 2021

Was this page helpful?

Very poor
Neither good nor poor
Very good