Step 7: If you don't get a place at your preferred secondary school

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Summary of this step

You can add your child to waiting lists

You can appeal against the admission decision

Waiting lists

Adding your child's name to a waiting list

If you are not offered a place at your most preferred school, your child's name may be added to one or more waiting lists for other schools and you will be notified if a place becomes available (for example, if other people decline their offer of a place at those schools).

If you are offered a place that was not your first preference, your child's name will automatically be placed on the waiting list for any community schools you named as higher preferences than the school your place has been offered at.

If you aren't offered a place at any of your preferred schools, your child's name will automatically be placed on the waiting lists for all the community schools you applied for.

Waiting lists for community schools are maintained by our admissions team.

Waiting lists for academies and foundation, free and voluntary aided schools are normally maintained by each of those schools but some may ask us to do this on their behalf – please check their waiting list policies for details.

If you are unsure of the type of school you have applied for, please check our directory of Surrey schools.

If you would like your child to be considered for a school you didn't originally apply for, write to the local authority where you live (even if the school is elsewhere) to add it as a preference.

Your child's position on waiting lists

Waiting lists are ranked according to each school's admissions criteria, not the date the application was received or when the child's name was added to the list.

From 27 March 2024 you can call us on 0300 200 1004 to find out about waiting list positions for:

  • our community schools: Ash Manor and Oakwood
  • the following academies and foundation, trust and voluntary aided schools: The Ashcombe, Carrington, Chertsey High, Esher CofE High, Jubilee High, Oxted, Reigate, Thomas Knyvett, Three Rivers Academy and Warlingham.

For waiting lists at other academies and foundation, trust and voluntary aided schools you should contact the school directly.

Details of how places have been allocated for September 2024 are available to view on the How school places were allocated in previous years web page.

As some families decline their offer of a school place, vacancies are created and will be filled from each school's waiting list. Offer letters are issued by the child's home local authority and at this time any preferences lower down on the parent's list are withdrawn, unless offers have already been made for those. So there may be occasions when a child receives more than one offer. If multiple offers are made, we work quickly to resolve them, to free up places for other children.

Your child's position on a waiting list can go down as well as up. This is because other children who have greater priority against the school's admission criteria may be added to the list (for example, a child who moves into the area).

If you have moved since originally applying and your child is ranked on the waiting list according to distance, then your new address will usually be used to determine your child's place on the waiting list. However you must make sure you tell the admission authority for the school that you have moved address. If you are unsure which address is being used, please check with the admission authority for the school.

If you are applying for a school place for more than one child for September 2024 and one child is allocated a place, to receive sibling priority for the second child (where this applies) please let the admission authority for that school know that a sibling has been given a place. In many schools, sibling priority can only be given to a child on an in-year waiting list once the sibling has started at the school.

A significant change may take place to waiting list positions at the start of the autumn term. This may be due to:

  • the volume of applications received during the school holidays.
  • removal of any children who have not reapplied to remain on waiting lists for the new academic year.
  • changes to the way admission criteria are applied at the start of the autumn term.

Making sure that your child remains on the waiting list after the end of the school year

For schools we manage admissions for, we will maintain a waiting list until 22 July 2025 which is the last day of the summer term, after which it will be cancelled. If you would like your child's name to stay on the waiting list after this date, you must submit a Continuing Interest form between 1 July and 31 August 2025.

Academies and foundation, free and voluntary aided schools which manage their own admissions may have different policies on cancelling their waiting lists. You should check their requirements for remaining on a waiting list with each school directly.


If your child is not offered a place at one of your preferred schools and does not have an education, health and care plan, you can appeal against the decision.

For Surrey schools you must do this by the deadlines shown in the appeals timetable or the dates set out against each school in our directory of Surrey schools.

For schools outside Surrey you should contact the school or the local authority where the school is situated to find out about how and when to submit an appeal.

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