The Ultimate Guide for Applying to Secondary Schools
September 22, 2021
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The transition from primary education to secondary education can be daunting for both students and parents. The decisions made will impact not only your child’s education, but life for at least the next 5 years, and it’s important to have all the information you need. This guide will comprehensively cover everything you need to know about applying to secondary schools, including:

  • Choosing your school
  • Admissions Criteria
  • Applications
  • Application Support

We’re here to help you make the best choice for your child


How to choose the best schools for your child?

As a parent, it’s important to research your prospective schools as closely as you can, but with such a large number of options in each borough, it can be difficult. Below we have listed our recommended tools to help you make the best choice. When using any tool, it’s important to consider what criteria is most important to you, whether it be: academic results, OFSTED ratings, distance or extracurricular opportunities offered by the school.

With the ‘Good School’s Guide’ search tool: Good School Guide you will be able to compare schools in your borough by their exam results, reports from OFSTED and read independent reviews from a range of sources.

To see school details the government website: Compare School UK provides a comprehensive tool for comparison which allows you to see school results from across England. Parents can see different school types, gender types and OFSTED reports.

If your main focus is academic performance, an alternative place to check would be the Best Schools Top 100 schools by GCSE list: Top 100 Schools – Best Schools
This tool is also useful for parents who are considering private secondary schools rather than state funded. The list provided by best schools is unique, in that it contains an average termly school fee for the relevant schools and it will also provide a comparison of the percentage of As and A* received in the current and previous academic year.

Once you have completed your research, you will need to create a list of choices. The amount of schools in this list can vary depending on your location. Asides from checking rankings and comparison sites, it is also recommended to visit the school on their open days. The dates for these will vary from school to school, but you can usually find this information on their website. It’s also important to have an open conversation with your child to understand what they might be looking for. This might be certain clubs or subjects that appeal to their interest. This is important to know as it will engage them in their learning and lead to the best environment to prepare them for their GCSE exams. Ultimately, as a parent you will have the best insight to which school will be the best fit for your child and trust your own instincts when making this choice.


Admissions Criteria

All schools in London will have admissions criteria to decide which students will receive a place for their studies. For most institutions, the criteria will be set by the local council, particularly if it is a state funded school. However, it is important to note that the criteria may vary from school to school, and it is important to check with the local council or contact the school itself to find out the exact criteria. Please see our list below for general criteria that is applicable to most state funded schools:


General Criteria

Preference will usually be given to students:

    • Who live close to the school
    • Who have a brother or sister at the school already. Siblings generally – but not always – take priority.
    • Who went to a particular primary school (a ‘feeder school’)
    • Who are eligible for the pupil premium or the service pupil premium
    • Whose parent has worked at the school for 2 years or more

There are two notable exceptions, one being a faith schools, which can give priority to students based on religious ground. However, they can do so only if they are oversubscribed. Roman Catholic or Church of England schools may ask for proof that your child has been baptized or a confirmation letter from your priest confirmation your religious practice and attendance at your respective place of worship. Within London there are other options available with regards to faith schools including Hinduism, Sikhism and Jewish based schools, although these schools are quite rare in comparison.

The second exception would be grammar schools and private schools, which would require students to pass an entrance exam. These schools are commonly referred to as selective schools and the most common exam is the 11 Plus exam. Passing this exam would allow entry to all grammar schools and most private schools, however some private schools will have their own internal examination in particular subjects that need to be taken before entry.

Students will start preparing to sit the 11 Plus exams from the age of 8 (Year 3) until they sit the exam in Year 6. The 11 Plus exam is used to assess a child’s capabilities on their application for grammar school. It is based on various types of content which are not taught in the current primary school curriculum.

For more detail on the 11+ exam including Key dates and types of material covered please read our 11+ guide below.

inTuition Clubs 11+ guide

If you are interested in study tips for the 11+ exam and how to best prepare your child, please see our Exam Preparation Blog written with tips from our own 11+ tutors who have been helping students pass their 11+ exams since 2018.

11+ Exam Tips

The Application

The application for secondary schools can be found on the website of your local authority and must be submitted before October 31st. In London, the application will ask you to provide six school options for your child, as many schools within the city are often oversubscribed. It is important to select at least one school that you feel confident in receiving a place at. This is to ensure that your child will be sent to a school of your choice. If all the schools of your choice, are oversubscribed, you could run the risk of the council having to allocate a school to you that may not be the preference for you or your child. It’s very important to use all six options provided to you in the form. Leaving the form incomplete will simply reduce your chances of entering a school of your choice and you may end up receiving a place at schools that are unpopular in the brough.

It is very important that you read the form carefully, not only entering the correct information but also providing the necessary supporting documents. This form will be key to ensuring your child’s place at certain schools, and faith-based schools, as these schools in particular have strict deadlines with regards to their supporting information forms (SIF).

If you would like support through your child’s admission exams or if you would be looking to get your child prepared in advance for entry into Year 7, inTuition Clubs are to help. At inTuition Clubs we provide an intensive 11 Plus programme which can be tailored to the school in which you plan to apply for.

Our 11 Plus course caters for both private and grammar school nationally, tackling verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and maths for the GL and CEM examinations. Alternatively, if you were looking for extra support for your child during Year 6, we offer an online and in-centre transition course, to help support your child through their transition into Year 7. In this transition course the tutors will support your child for their SATs exams with our workshops and understand the importance of this time as it will determine their academic sets in Year 7. Our highly qualified and passionate tutors are ready to help your child today.

Book a free Academic Evaluation with our Educational Lead and let inTuition Clubs guide your child to success.

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