Secondary school admissions

Finding the right school for your child

From 1 September, secondary school admissions for 2024 will be opening. If you are a parent or carer with a child reaching age 11 between 1 September 2023 and 31 August 2024, they will be due to start secondary school in September 2024 and you have until 31 October 2023 to apply for their school place.

If you miss the deadline, you will reduce the chances of getting one of your preferred schools for your child.

To help you prepare, here's everything you need to know about the schools application process.

How to apply

We encourage all applications to apply through our online admissions system webpage, which is quick, easy to use, and available all day, every day. By applying online, you'll be able to receive the outcome of your application by email.

When applying, you can choose up to six schools that you would like to apply for. You must name the schools in order of your preference. If your child can be offered a place at more than one of your named schools, the offer will be for the one that is listed highest on your preferences.

We recommend that you apply for six schools in total if possible, in order to increase your chances of being offered a place at one of your named schools. Naming fewer schools on your list of preferences does not increase the chance of you being offered a place at one of those schools, but instead may increase the risk of being offered a place at a school that you have not named.

The online admissions system webpage can provide you with a step-by-step explanation of the full admissions process, and further information on each step, which includes:

  • Step 1: Research and choose schools to apply for
  • Step 2: Complete the application form
  • Step 3: Complete any supplementary forms
  • Step 4: Applications are assessed
  • Step 5: We offer you a place
  • Step 6: You accept or decline the place
  • Step 7: What to do if you don't get a place at your preferred school

The first step is a crucial part of the process, so we've provided our top tips for researching schools below.

Top tips for researching secondary schools

Deciding which secondary schools to apply for is a big decision, so it's important to research schools in order to find the right one for your child. To help you with researching schools, we've compiled a list of key things to consider when exploring your options:

What is the school's admissions criteria?

Admissions criteria will vary from school to school. You can check the admission criteria for secondary schools in the schools admissions booklet web page or on the school's own website. Consider how these may affect your chances of being offered a place.

Many schools base their admission criteria on the distance between your home and the school, and priority is usually given to siblings, so make sure to research first to find out what your options are. Each school must display its admission arrangements on its website or a link to the local authority's admission arrangements.

Where is the school and how will your child get there?

It's important to think about how your child will be getting to and from school. You can find schools in your area using our Directory of Surrey schools web page, which allows you to search via a range of different filters, including phase, type, and location. You can also check a school's approximate distance to your home on the school map web page.

It's also worth checking if your child may be eligible for travel assistance to school. You can check your eligibility via our travel assistance to school webpage.

What are their policies and achievements?

You can find basic information on each school, including contact details, links to the school's website and Ofsted results, as well as admissions and appeals information on our Directory of Surrey schools web page.

You can also find details of their policies, achievements, and exam results by visiting the school's own website or by reading their brochure. You'll find a brochure on most schools' websites. This will give you an idea of which subjects the school specialises in so you can consider whether these match your child's interests and talents.

Have you been to an open evening?

Before making any final decisions, we highly recommend visiting all of the schools that you are considering applying for. You can find details of open evening dates on the school admission booklet webpage.

During your visit, take a look around the facilities, go to the headteacher's presentation, chat with the student tour guides and talk to the teachers. Take your child along with you so you can gauge their reaction to the school. After all, it's all about finding the right fit for your child.

Primary school admissions are coming soon

Parents with children starting primary school in September 2024 can start applying for a school place from 30 October 2023 and have until 15 January 2024 to complete their applications.

We'll be sharing a similar article on primary, infant and junior school admissions in Surrey Matters in late October.

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