Get into the right secondary school – our essential guide to education is now out!

Kevin Quinn (21 September, 2018)

Where to start and how the system works:


The difficulties faced each year deciding which secondary school to apply to for your child remains one of the biggest education decisions for parents and carers.

You can’t expect to name a secondary school and assume that your child will automatically be offered a place. It is simply a case of listing the schools you prefer and awaiting the outcome of the allocation process.

It is vital that you get the order of preferences right on your child’s primary to secondary transfer application. You may be tempted to name just one school on the online application as it is the only school you want for your child. However, there are no guarantees that your child will be offered this school. To increase the chances of your child being offered a preferred school, we strongly advise you to list up to six preferences on their application.

It is all too easy just to go by hearsay and reputations – visit the schools for yourself. A school that may never have been in your mind before could offer subjects or have specialist facilities that would better suit your child more than the school that was originally top of your list.

There are various types of secondary schools to choose from including academies, voluntary aided, foundation, free and independent schools. And it is here where the oversubscription criteria vary. It is important you fully understand the oversubscription criteria and match them to your own circumstances. Some schools are heavily oversubscribed, with hundreds applying for just 120 – 300 places.

When you go to an open day, make sure you find out how many applications the school usually receives – this information will also be printed in the Starting Secondary school in Southwark 2019/2020 brochure and Secondary School in Lambeth 2019/20 booklet.

The more people who apply for a school for their children, the bigger the risk that your child might not be offered a place at that school. Armed with this knowledge, you should be better placed to put your preferences down.

Do use all six preferences – however, you need to be wary about only choosing schools which are heavily over-subscribed.   You should name your first preference school on the application, but also list preferences where your child has a realistic chance of being offered a place.

As the local paper, we have often seen situations where parents and carers have only listed oversubscribed schools as preferences on their child’s application and consequently have not been offered a place at any of them. So, from being in a position where they had the luxury of being able to name preferred schools, they were left feeling like they had no option but to accept the alternative school they had been allocated by the local authority – this is likely to be the nearest school to the child’s home which has a vacancy. This offer of a school place will remain available unless the local authority is notified of any other suitable alternative arrangement for education that has been made for their child.

Applying for secondary schools can be emotionally difficult. It is such a vital decision for your child’s future. If your child is in Year 6 and currently attending one of Southwark’s or Lambeth’s primary schools, you will receive further information from your child’s headteacher.

If you are a Southwark resident you must  apply online at or if you are a Lambeth resident you can apply online at

The online application process gets rid of the paperwork, and is available to use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The site allows users to save, continue or make changes to their application, right up until the closing date and your details are safe and secure. You can of course print a copy of your application to keep and can also view the outcome online. The closing date to submit the online application is 31 October 2018 by 11.59pm.

Children who have education, health and care plans follow a different admissions process and parents and carers must contact the special educational needs and disabilities team within their local authority for further advice.

Once you have made your preferences and submitted your online application by the closing date, your application will be processed. If you have  successfully submitted your online application before the closing date, you will be able to view the results of your application on the eAdmissions website( during the evening of 1 March 2019. You will also be sent an email after 5pm on 1 March 2019 which will contain information on what to do next.

If it was not possible to offer a place at any of your preferred schools, then the school admissions team will allocate your child an alternative secondary school. This is likely to be the nearest Southwark or Lambeth school to your child’s home which has a vacancy. You also have the right to appeal against the decision not to offer your child a place at a preferred school. The email containing the outcome of your child’s application will include information about how to appeal.

If it has not been possible to offer a place at any schools named as a higher preference on your child’s application, your child’s name will automatically be added to the waiting lists of these schools. You may also ask for your child’s name to be added to the waiting list of any out of borough schools listed on your application. Please contact the local authority the school is located in for further information.

If your child has been offered a secondary school place, you have until 15 March 2019 to reject this offer. If the school admissions team do not hear from you by this date, your offer will automatically be accepted and your child’s details forwarded to the allocated school.

If you do reject the offer and also provide details of any alternative arrangement you have made for your child’s education, your child’s place will be withdrawn and offered to the next child on the school’s waiting list.

Download our Guide


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