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Making a realistic application

Examples of how the secondary transfer process works

The examples here highlight some of the issues that you need to consider when making your preferences.

Please check the admission criteria for each school you list on your preference form and use the other information available in the Secondary School Admissions Arrangements 2020 document to consider how successful your application might be.

Children’s Advice and Support Service on 0121 303 1888, will be happy to discuss your particular preferences and provide any advice to help you make an informed decision.


Alan's story

The closest secondary school to Alan’s home (School G) is a school where, based on previous admission patterns, Alan would have been offered a place for each of the last three years.

Alan’s parents decide to apply for a secondary school (School A) that is further away from their home because Alan’s cousin attends there. The family also apply for other schools further away from their home hoping that Alan will be offered a place, rather than looking at each school’s admissions criteria and previous admissions patterns which would have indicated that it would be unlikely that Alan would be offered a place at any of his six preferences. This includes two Catholic schools.

Schools A, B, C and E give priority to children who live closest to the school after siblings of children already attending the school. Schools D and F are Catholic schools that give priority to children who are baptised, practising Catholics and who attend a Catholic feeder primary school.

The preferences submitted for Alan were:

  1. School A
  2. School B
  3. School C
  4. Catholic School D
  5. School E
  6. Catholic School F

Alan was not offered a place at any of the family’s preferred schools.

Alan was not offered a place at Schools A, B, C and E as they all filled with children who lived closer to the schools than Alan. The fact Alan’s cousin attends School A did not give him priority as cousins are not part of the school’s oversubscription criteria.

Alan was not offered a place at School D or School F as he is not a baptised, practising Catholic and does not attend a Catholic feeder primary school. Both schools filled with children who met one of these criteria.

As none of the preferences submitted for him could be met, Alan was offered a place at one of the nearest schools to his home with places available at the time of the offer of places (School H). This school is 3,500 metres from his home.

Alan was not offered a place at School G (500m from the family’s home address) as the family did not list is as one of their preferences and it offered all its places to children whose parents ranked it as one of their six preferences. Alan would have been offered a place at School G if the family had listed it as one of their preferences.


Leslene's story

Leslene lives close to two secondary schools (Schools A and C) and would have been offered a place there for each of the last three years. Her parents know that they live a long way from School B but they want to see if they will be offered a place there.

Leslene’s parents would really like her to go to a grammar school but they think they should rank other schools higher in case she does not achieve a high enough score to be offered a place at a grammar school.

Leslene’s parents submit their application as soon as the application process opens and before they receive the results of the grammar school test as they think that they are more likely to be offered one of their preferences if they apply sooner.

Their preferences are:

  1. School A
  2. School B
  3. School C
  4. Grammar School D
  5. Grammar School E
  6. Grammar School F

Leslene lives too far from School B to be offered a place there. She qualifies for places at the two secondary schools closest to the family’s home (School A and School C).

Leslene achieved a high enough score in the tests to be offered a place at Grammar School D and lives in the catchment area which is part of that grammar school’s oversubscription criteria. She did not meet the criteria for Grammar Schools E and F as even though she scored well in the selective test she does not live in their catchment areas.

Leslene is offered a place at School A, the highest ranked school for which she met the admission criteria.

If the family wanted Leslene to attend a grammar school, they should have submitted their application after they received the result of the test and listed the grammar schools at the top of their application.


Lillie-Mae's story

Lillie-Mae lives close to three secondary schools (Schools D, E and F) and her brother attends School C. Her parents have also applied for Lillie-Mae to sit the test for grammar school and would prefer her to attend a grammar school than the school with her brother if she scores highly enough.

Lillie-Mae’s parents wait until they have received Lillie-Mae’s grammar school test result before they submit their preferences for her as these results are available before the deadline for applications.

Their preferences are:

  1. Grammar School A
  2. Grammar School B
  3. School C
  4. School D
  5. School E
  6. School F

Lillie-Mae achieved a high enough score in the grammar school test to be offered a place at Grammar School A and lives in the school’s catchment area. She also scored well enough to be offered a place at Grammar School B and this grammar school does not have a catchment area.

Lillie-Mae qualified for a place at Schools C, D, E and F because she has a sibling at School C and lives close enough to Schools D, E and F to be offered a place under the distance criterion.

Because Lillie-Mae met the admission criteria for all six preferences, she is offered a place at the school the family ranked highest, Grammar School A.


Asif's story

Asif lives 155 metres from his local secondary school (School F), but his parents would prefer him to attend another school if possible. Asif’s parents would like him to attend a Catholic secondary school (School A) as he currently attends a Catholic primary school but he is not a baptised, practising Catholic. The other schools the family listed on their application are far away from the family’s home but the family hope Asif will be offered a place there. The family use their last preference for School F as it is very close to their home and Asif would have been offered a place there for the last three years. The family know that Asif will only be offered a place at School F if he does not meet the admission criteria for any of their other preferences.  

Their preferences are:

  1. Catholic School A
  2. School B
  3. School C
  4. School D
  5. School E
  6. School F

Catholic School A fills with children who are baptised practising Catholics so Asif is not offered a place there. He lives too far from Schools B, C, D and E to qualify for a place.

As none of the family’s first five preferences could be offered, Asif was offered a place at School F where he met the admission criteria due to how close he lives to the school.

If the family had not listed School F as a preference, Asif would have been offered a place at one of the nearest schools available with places. This school would have been much further from the family’s home than School F.

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