Apply for a secondary school place
From 13 November to 31 December 2023, we are co-ordinating a consultation on admissions arrangements for 2025 intakes.
If your child lives in West Northamptonshire, from 8 September 2023, you can make an application for a:
- secondary school place for September 2024 if your child has their 11th birthday between 1 September 2023 and 31 August 2024 (year 6 in a primary or junior school)
- upper school (year 9 or 10) or UTC place (year 10) in another county for September 2024
If your child is already at secondary school and wishes to move to a different school, you will need to make an in-year application instead.
The closing date for applications was 31 October 2023.
You can still make a late application, these are processed from April 2024 onwards. See key dates and deadlines.
Admission arrangements and process to apply for a Secondary school place:
The quickest way to make a late application is online.
Some secondary schools require parents to complete a supplementary information form (SIF) in addition to the application made to the local authority. Please contact the school(s) directly, or visit their website, for the relevant form.
Other ways of applying
Your local library
You can apply online at any West Northamptonshire Council library. There will be no charge for using the computers.
Apply by post
You can request a paper form by contacting us.
Frequently asked questions
When you apply for a place you are asked to list 3 preferred schools in order of preference. Every school has a number of places available for applicants - this is the called the published admission number (PAN) for the school.
If fewer than this number of children apply for a place at the school, all of the children will be given a place. If more than this number of children apply then the school uses its ‘oversubscription admission criteria’ to decide which children must be offered a place.
By stating only one preference, it does not give your child any extra priority or guarantee that a place will be allocated at that school. Your child would still be ranked according to where they fell in the oversubscription criteria for that school. If it is not possible to offer a place at that school, your child will be allocated a place at the end of the process at the nearest school to your home address with places remaining at that point.
Equal preferencing means that each of your three preferences will be considered by the admission authority of each of the schools applied for. Each admission authority must consider all applications for places at the school and they will not be informed where parents/carers have placed the school in their list of 3 preferences (so there is no possibility of favouring those who name the school as first preference or discounting those who placed it as second or third preference). See equal preferencing for more information.
You can only select each school once within your online application. If you are filling in a paper preference form, do not name the same school more than once in your preferences. Writing down the same school more than once will not increase your chances of getting a place at that school. This will still only count as one preference.
The law makes it very clear that if you only tell us one preference and it is unsuccessful, your child will only be allocated a place after all the other applicants' preferences (first, second and third) have been considered.
The result might be that your child is allocated a place a long way from your home, and transport may not be available.
Applications for secondary school are coordinated nationally. This means all parents must apply to their home authority but can name schools in any county.
If one or more of your preferences is for a state-funded school in another county, you can choose these when you fill in your online or paper preference form. But if you live in West Northamptonshire you must send West Northamptonshire's School Admissions Team your preference form, regardless of which local authority area your preferred schools are in.
Do not send a preference form to the other local authority - we will liaise with that authority to make sure your application is considered according to your preferred school's oversubscription admission criteria.
If one or more of your preferred schools is in another county, you will need to find out from the school itself if you need any additional forms to support your application and return any additional forms directly to the school.
If you want your child to sit the 11 plus exam for a grammar school in another county, you must contact that county's admission authority to apply for the test.
If you do not live in West Northamptonshire (even if your child attends a West Northamptonshire primary school) you must apply to your own local authority for a secondary school place, even if you are applying for a West Northamptonshire school.
University Technical Colleges
If you are applying for a place at Silverstone University Technical College (UTC) you should apply to the school directly regardless of where you live.
If a child lives with their separated parents for different parts of the week, we will consider the home address to be where the child sleeps for most of the school week (Sunday night to Thursday night). If the child spends equal amounts of time at the two addresses, the parents must agree which address they wish to be the child’s main address. If this differs from the address held by your child's current primary school we reserve the right to ask for proof of address.
We will only respond to the parent or carer who has completed the preference form (‘the applicant’). Where parents are separated, and have not shared information about the preference process, we will use the following procedure if we receive a request for information from one of the parents:
We will write to both parents to establish their right to view the data.
Once parental responsibility has been confirmed, we will send the information they are entitled to. There may be a charge for this service.
We can only process one application because we can only allocate one place. If we receive more than one application for the same child, made by separated parents, where the home address and / or the preferences do not match, neither application will be processed until such a time that the parents can agree on both address and preferences.
If no agreement can be made, parents are recommended to seek legal advice. If agreement cannot be reached before the closing date, this may affect the chances of your child being allocated a place at your preferred school(s).
You can amend your online application as many times as required prior to the closing date by selecting 'Change my application'. You must remember to resubmit the application each time (you will receive an email confirming the changes when you resubmit).
If you submit more than one paper application (and they are received before the closing date), the latest dated application will be processed.
You cannot amend your application once the deadline has passed. To change your preferences after the closing date you need to submit a late application which would be processed in our additional rounds of allocation which start in April.
In 2023, approximately 77 per cent of applicants for a secondary school place who applied on time were allocated their first preference. A further 17 per cent were allocated either their second or third preference.
Where your child is ranked in the individual school’s oversubscription criteria is more important (when allocating places) than where you have placed schools in your preference list. However, we have to offer you a place at the highest preferred school that we are able to at the time of allocations. Depending on where you are ranked in the oversubscription criteria for each of your preferred schools, this may not be your first preference.
Where your child is ranked in the individual school’s oversubscription criteria is more important when allocating the places than where you have placed schools in your preference list. View the schools directory or the 'Applying for a Secondary School place' booklet on the right for each school's oversubscription criteria and whether or not they were oversubscribed for 2021. This should give you a good idea of the chance of your child being successful in obtaining a place at your first preference school and your other preferences. Do bear in mind that this information can only be used as a guide, because the pattern of preferences may vary from year to year.
Different schools use different oversubscription admission criteria, for example:
- Some oversubscription admission criteria give priority to children living in their linked area – often a criterion used in rural areas. Remember, if you live in a school’s linked area and want to be considered for a place at that school, you must include it as one of your preferences. If you do not include your linked school in your preferences and it is oversubscribed, your child may be allocated a place at another school which may be quite far from your home
- The oversubscription admission criteria for faith schools may give priority to applicants on grounds of church attendance or commitment
- It is important that you think about the likelihood of schools being oversubscribed. We would also suggest that you should read and consider each school’s oversubscription admission criteria before applying
If you live in an area that has a linked school, think about including that school as one of your preferences. Find a school to check what the linked areas are for each school.
Many schools give priority to children living in the linked area. Remember, if you live in a school’s linked area and want to be considered for a place at that school, you must include it as one of your preferences. If you do not include your linked school in your preferences and it is oversubscribed, your child may be allocated a place at another school which may be quite far from your home.
If all your preferred schools are oversubscribed (ie they receive more applications than places available) and we cannot offer you a place at any of them, we will offer you a place at the closest school to your home address that still has places available at the end of the application process. Please note, this may not be your closest school (if it has filled to the admission number with pupils who named the school as a preference).
Our multiple birth policy does not entitle applicants with twins or multiple births to gain their first preference but does, where possible, entitle them to be kept together if they so wish. However, this may not be their first preference and may even be at a different school altogether.
Please be aware that if you make a preference for a school which uses random allocation as part of its oversubscription admission criteria, there is a chance that only one child will be allocated a place at the school. This could mean that twins, or other multiple birth groups, are allocated places at different schools.
If you tell us fraudulent or misleading information in your preference form (for example, a false claim to be living at a certain address or a false claim to have a sibling link) which stopped us from giving a place to a child with a stronger claim, we will withdraw your offer of a place. We will make checks if there is any doubt about your address.
In previous years we have withdrawn places where we have found that a given address was false.
Some schools require you to send separate information directly to them, for example:
- Faith schools may ask for information about your allegiance to a religion
- Specialist schools may need information to assess whether your child has an aptitude for the school's specialism (if you wish to apply on those grounds)
- Some schools require you to apply for your child to sit a test before being considered
- If you have included one or more of these schools amongst your preferences, you must get the supplementary form directly from the school
We allocate school places using the address your child is living at on the closing date for applications (31 October 2023).
Change of address before the closing date
If you move before the closing date for applications, you will be able to change your address and your preferences (if necessary) on your online application up to the closing date.
You will be able to provide your new address and / or change your preferences if you advise us by email or letter. We must receive any new information about your address or preferences by on 31 October 2023 for the application to be considered as 'on time'.
Please note that we will need to receive documentary evidence of your new address by 31 October 2023 for the application to be considered 'on time'.
Change of address after the closing date
Please inform us of your new address, by email or letter, so that we can communicate with you.
If you move address after the closing date and wish to change your address and / or preferences, you should complete a late application form. The application must be accompanied by documentary evidence of your new address. Late applications are dealt with during our further rounds of allocation which start in April 2024.
However, your on time application will be processed and a school place will be allocated according to the address we hold on the closing date (meaning where your child lived on 31 October 2023). We will be able to use your new address for correspondence purposes only. If appropriate, we will then process any late applications you make in the next round of allocations using your new address.
Examples of evidence for your new address:
- a copy of a signed lease or rental agreement (6 months minimum)
- a copy of a solicitor's letter confirming the exchange of contracts or completion date
We will not process an application for a child until they are residing in the UK. The only exception is the children of UK Armed Service Personnel and other Crown Servants.
For families of service personnel with confirmed posting to their area, or crown servants returning from overseas to live in that area, admission authorities must allocate a place in advance of the family arriving in the area, provided the application is accompanied by an official letter declaring a relocation date and a unit postal address or quartering area address.
If your child is already at secondary school and wishes to move to a different school, you will need to make an in-year application.
When we talk about a child’s home address, we mean the permanent residence of the child. The address must be the child’s only or main residence that is either:
- owned by the child’s parent, parents or carer or guardian
- leased to or rented by the child’s parent, parents or guardian under a lease or written rental agreement of not less than 6 months duration - the property leased should be that in which the family lives
We may require written proof of ownership or a rental agreement and proof of actual permanent residence at the property. We cannot allocate places on the basis of intended future changes of address unless house moves have been confirmed through the exchange of contracts with a completion date, or the signing of a formal lease agreement.
We do not usually accept an address if:
- It is the address of your second home. If you have 2 homes, we will check which one is your main home. We may refuse to allocate a school place at an address which we consider to be a temporary or business address
- Only part of a family moves, unless this was as a result of a divorce or permanent separation arrangement. We will ask for proof of this
We reserve the right to seek further written proof to support your claim to residence, and that your child is living there.
Each year, the School Admissions Team will ask for proof of address for pupils where the address on their application form differs from that held by their current school.
Last updated 13 November 2023