Making an application
When you apply, you should list 4 schools in order of preference (we sometimes call this your "ranked" schools).
Research schools to help you make the right school preferences for your child.
This includes looking at a school's admission rules (how they work out who will be offered a place).
It's also important to think about how your child gets to school. Very few children can get free home to school transport.
Make sure your child is entitled to a place in a state school before you apply. Check your visa status if you're not a European Economic Area citizen.
How the system works
School admissions across the country
- School admissions are coordinated by local authorities to ensure that children across the country are offered a single school place on the same day. This system is fairer, with more parents being offered one of their preferred schools earlier.
- All applications are considered at the same time. Admission rules are applied equally, regardless of how you ordered (ranked) the schools on your form.
- We will only use your order of preference (rank) if it's possible to offer your child a place at more than one of your preferred schools. If this is the case, we'll offer you a place at the highest ranked school possible.
- The allocation process is automated for all community schools. Officers aren't involved and don't influence decisions. The only exceptions are when deciding whether a child qualifies for a place under Rule 2 and when allocating a school not ranked on your application form.
- Schools and academies responsible for their own admissions provide us with a list of pupils they will offer places to.
- We offer all places on behalf of all schools in Hertfordshire.
How you apply
You list the schools you want to apply for on 1 form, ordered by preference. You can put down schools in and outside of Hertfordshire.
If you only apply to 1 school, your child will only be considered for that school.
Schools won't know the order you rank them or which other schools you've applied for. If you appeal, the appeals panel will know because your application form and allocation letter will usually form part of the paperwork prepared for the appeal process.
You can use the secondary school application form to apply for studio schools outside Hertfordshire and The Elstree University Technical College (UTC) in Borehamwood or you can apply direct to Watford UTC, if your child is transferring to Year 10 in September. These are schools for 14-19 year olds.
If your child is not offered a place at any of your preferred schools and you live in Hertfordshire, you will usually be allocated a place at the nearest suitable school to your home address with places still available. This might not be a school in Hertfordshire and could be a school or academy responsible for its own admissions.
School place planning
You can email us your views about the provision of school places in your local area at the time of your application.
This feedback is given to our county councillors who agree each year how many school places are provided in each area.
School place planning – find out more
Academies and voluntary aided or foundation schools – extra information needed
Most academies and voluntary aided or foundation schools have their own rules.
Schools get a list of every application made for their school, but they don't see your order of preference.
They apply their own admission rules to applications and allocate places.
They may also ask for additional information on an extra form (sometimes called a Supplementary Information Form).
University Technical Colleges and studio schools
University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and studio schools both admit pupils directly into Year 10 (pupils can remain until Year 13) and, at GCSE, offer a similar curriculum to secondary schools.
UTCs are set up by universities and businesses. They specialise in 1 or 2 technical subjects which are offered alongside GCSEs.
Studio schools have employer involvement in the curriculum and focus on developing skills for employment, involving personal coaching and work experience, alongside GCSEs.
All schools must provide impartial careers advice and guidance to all students in Years 8-13 to inspire them to fulfil their potential and ensure they're aware of all opportunities open to them. We strongly recommend that your child discusses their options with a careers advisor and considers the GCSE curriculum available at their current school.
Your child may be very happy at their existing school and can, of course, remain there. However, if you wish to apply for a place at a UTC or studio school, take a look at university technical colleges and studio schools in and around Hertfordshire.
You'll find more information from individual school websites and www.utcolleges.org.
Applying for schools outside Hertfordshire
If you live in Hertfordshire, you apply to us. Even if you're applying for a school outside of the county.
If you live outside Hertfordshire, you must apply to your own council. That's even if you're applying for Hertfordshire schools.
Find contact details for neighbouring councils
Children with special educational needs
All schools in Hertfordshire can cater for children with a wide range of needs, whether those needs are to do with learning, behaviour or a disability.
Children who have special educational needs but don't have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan should apply for a school place in the usual way.
Children with an EHC plan that names a specific school are allocated secondary school places through a separate process.
You can apply as usual for a mainstream secondary school place but your application will be handled by your SEN officer in the local special needs team.
You will not get an allocation letter and allocation information will not be available online.
Your child’s SEN officer will consider the information received with your child’s Year 5 annual review (or Year 4 in a middle school). You will have already received an amended EHC plan, based on that information
When that amended EHC plan was issued, your SEN officer will have asked you for your preferred school. At the start of the autumn term your SEN officer will send you an amendment notice. This will show you the changes that need to be made to your child’s EHC plan before they move up to secondary or upper school.
Let your SEN officer know your preferred secondary or upper school at this point, if you haven't already done so.
During the autumn term, your SEN officer will consult with your preferred secondary or upper school and send them a copy of your child’s EHC plan. The headteacher has 15 days to respond.
Following this, your SEN officer will finalise your child’s EHC plan and name a secondary or upper school in section 1 of the EHC plan.
You should get this document before the end of the autumn term, in advance of the legal deadline which is 15 February in the year your child moves up to secondary or upper school
If you have any questions about this, please contact your child’s SEN officer.
Hertfordshire's Local Offer
Our "local offer" shows the services, groups and information available for parents and carers of children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
Children taught in a different year group
Generally, children should be educated in their normal age group (that is their correct chronological year). The curriculum should be amended as necessary to meet the needs of individual children.
If you think your child should be educated in a different year group, when you apply send us supporting evidence from relevant professionals and family stating why.
For community and voluntary controlled schools, we decide whether your application is successful. A panel looks at the information you send, including:
- the views of parents and the headteacher
- the child's social, academic and emotional development
- whether the child has been educated out of their normal year group previously.
There is no guarantee your application for your child to be taught in a different year group will be accepted.
If your application is not accepted, it does not mean that your child will be refused a school place. It just means that your application will be processed for the usual year group.
There is also no right to an independent statutory appeal for a place in a specific year group at a school. How a school places pupils in classes is for the headteacher and individual school to decide.
Academies, voluntary aided and foundation schools are responsible for their own admissions and they make this decision for applications made to their school.
Twins and multiple birth children
If you have more than one child applying for a secondary school at the same time, make a separate application for each of them.
If one of your children is offered the last place available at a school and you've applied for the same school for the other child or children, we'll try to offer a place for the others.
For community co-educational schools (boys and girls) and other schools and academies using our admission rules, we will offer a place to the other children.
For single sex academies that we allocate places to, a place will be offered to the other child or children unless the place allocated to the first child was offered under the random allocation procedure.
In this case, places will not be offered to other children in the family initially as this would compromise the random element of the allocation process. However, the academy may decide to offer an additional place after the allocation process has been completed.
Foundation, voluntary aided schools and academies should have their own policies. Contact the school direct. Find school contact details.