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Hertfordshire County Council

Admission rules for secondary and upper schools

Often a school gets more applications than it has places to offer. When that happens, admission rules are used to decide the order that applicants are offered places.

Here's a summary of the admissions rules for schools and academies using our admissions criteria. Rules are applied in order.

All schools and academies must admit a child with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan that names the school.

Rule 1 – children looked after

Children looked after and children who were previously looked after, including those children who appear (to the admission authority) to have been in state care outside of England and ceased to be in state care as a result of being adopted. Previously looked after children are those who were looked after but ceased to be so because of being adopted or became subject to a child arrangements order or a special guardianship order.

Children who were not looked after immediately before being adopted, or made the subject of a child arrangement order or special guardianship order, will not be prioritised under this rule.

Evidence needed (rule 1)

Include a letter or document from your child's social worker, advisory teacher or other professional as evidence.


Rule 2 – medical or social needs

Children who have a particular medical or social need to go to the specific school being applied for.

All Hertfordshire schools can support children with a wide range of additional needs and are expected to accommodate severe medical needs. 

An application made under rule 2 should clearly demonstrate why the school applied for is the only one that can meet your child’s need in a way that no other school can.

Evidence needed (rule 2)

You may wish to complete the Rule 2 application form if you're aming an application for a school or academy whose social / medical arrangements are considered by us. Check the rules of the school you're applying to for clarification on how to apply under Rule 2.

Recent independent objective evidence, for example from a doctor, psychologist, social worker or other professional involved with your child.

Professional evidence that outlines exceptional family circumstances making clear why only one school can meet your child’s needs.

If the requested school is not the nearest school to your child’s home address, give specific reasons why closer schools will not meet your child's needs.

Evidence must relate specifically to the school being applied for under rule 2.


A panel of officers will decide whether the evidence provided is enough to meet the requirements for this rule.

Contact the admissions team if there are exceptional reasons stopping you from getting independent objective professional evidence by the application deadline. Applications without this evidence will be rejected.

Examples of cases that have and haven't been accepted under rule 2

Examples of cases that have been accepted under rule 2 include:

  • children with an exceptional illness or disability (for example, restricted mobility) who can only reasonably attend one school
  • where only one school is suitable due to child protection issues. We'll give priority to children whose education would be seriously affected if they did not go to a particular school
  • exceptional cases relating to disability, where more than 1 school in the county can meet the child's specific needs, but a clear case has been made for the 'nearest school' with the relevant facilities, environment or location.


Examples of cases that have not been accepted under rule 2 include:

  • cases made around childminding arrangements, such as using a childminder that children are already familiar with who caters for children attending certain schools. Or childminding by family members who live close to a specific school. These cases weren't upheld because they're not exceptional. Many families rely on complex childminding arrangements
  • cases made for children with specific learning or behavioural needs where the professional evidence submitted is not school specific.

    All schools are able to support children with a wide variety of individual needs. If a child’s individual needs warrant an education health and care (EHC) plan, it will name the appropriate school
  • medical cases where even though there is a severe illness, more than one school could accommodate the child’s needs.

Applying under rule 2 during the continuing interest process

We'll only consider applications under rule 2 (medical or social reasons) when you first apply for a school.

However, if your child's medical or social circumstances have changed a lot since your original application, you can apply under rule 2 at the continuing interest stage.

You'll need to tell us the change in circumstances and include relevant professional evidence.


Rule 3 – siblings

Children who have a sibling at the school at the time of application, unless the sibling is in the last year of the normal age range of the school.

"Sibling" definitions

  • Brother or sister.
  • Half brother or sister.
  • Adopted brother or sister.
  • Child of the parent / carer or partner.
  • Children looked after or previously looked after. This doesn't include children temporarily living in the same house. For example, a looked after child in a  short term foster or bridging placement. If an applicant lives at more than one address, the sibling must also reside at the same address for the majority of the school week. The sibling’s address will be verified by the school

In every case, the sibling must be living permanently in the same family home (at least Monday to Friday).

A sibling must be on the roll of the named school or linked school, or have been offered and accepted a place, at the school at the time of application (and when the child starts).


Academies, voluntary aided and foundation schools may have a different sibling definition. Check the rules of the school you're applying to.


Rule 4 – in priority area, child's nearest school

Children who live in the priority area for whom it is their nearest Hertfordshire maintained school or academy which is:

  • non-faith
  • co-educational (teaches boys and girls)
  • non-partially selective.  That means the school doesn’t offer any places based on exams and academic ability. Read more about aptitude and ability.

You can only qualify for one school under rule 4 because only one school can be your nearest.

How we measure home to school distance

Rule 5 – in priority area, living closest to school

Children who live in the priority area on the basis of distance, with those living closest to the school given priority.

How we measure home to school distance

Rule 6 – outside priority area, living closest to school

Children living outside the priority area on the basis of distance, with those living closest to the school given priority.

How we measure home to school distance


Admission rules are applied in order. If more children qualify for a school place under a particular rule than there are places available, children will be prioritised using the next rule (for rules 2-5).


A tiebreak will be used if 2 applications have addresses that measure the same distance from a school.

For example, if 2 applications had identical home to school distance measurements, a random tiebreak would be used to decide which applicant is offered a place.

Every applicant is given a unique random number for each of their school preferences. When a random tiebreak is needed, this random number is used to allocate the place – the lowest number is given priority.

If 2 applications were received from the same block of flats, the applicant with the lower door number would be classed as nearest and offered a place because they are likely to be closer to the ground floor and, therefore, the school.

This tiebreak method is used for all schools that we manage admissions for.

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