Choosing a Secondary School
The Choice Advice Service closed on April 1st 2012.
As the current information in this section of the website will be useful to parents it will still be published but parents should note it will not be updated.
If you require any further information please contact the Admissions Team at Wiltshire Council on 01225 713010 or the schools directly using Wiltshire Council's School Directory.
Starting secondary school is a major step in young people’s lives. This section of the site aims to help you through the process of obtaining a secondary school place and suggests some action points to follow.
Wiltshire Council produce a very useful booklet for parents ‘Finding a School Place.’ Details of all secondary schools in Wiltshire, including their admissions policies can be found in the insert to this booklet. Hard copies are available from ask or Wiltshire Council.
If you are unsure which schools are near you, the governments' schools finder website enables you to enter your postcode and then lists all schools within 10km and shows profiles and basic information for each school.
The Department for Education's website contains a useful facility, compare schools, where you can compare the performance and characteristics of up to 5 schools of your choice.
Full details of schools' performance, past and present, can be found in the Performance Tables (league tables) produced by the government.
School inspection reports are available from Ofsted.
What are the different types of school?
Within Wiltshire there are 6 different types of school: community, voluntary controlled, voluntary aided, foundation, academies and independent (fee paying).
Community schools are maintained by the Local Authority (LA). The LA have the main responsibility for deciding admission arrangements. There are also Community Special schools which cater for some children with additional needs.
Voluntary controlled schools are maintained by the LA and with a foundation, usually religious, that appoints some of the school governors. The LA have the main responsibility for deciding admission arrangements.
Voluntary aided schools are maintained by the LA with a foundation, usually religious, that appoints most of the school governors. The governing body has the main responsibility for deciding admission arrangements i.e. writing the admissions policy and ranking applications.
Foundation schools are maintained by the LA and the governing body is responsible for running the school. The governing body has responsibility for deciding admissions arrangements i.e. writing the admissions policy and ranking applications.
Academies are publicly funded independent schools, free from Local Authority and national government control. The governing body has responsibility for deciding admissions arrangements but must still comply with the School Admissions and Appeals Codes.
Independent schools are private, fee paying schools where school governors decide the admission arrangements and parents apply directly to the school. Details of independent schools in the south west can be found on the Independent School Council website.
Wiltshire Council is responsible for co-ordinating admissions for the Community, Voluntary controlled, Voluntary aided, Foundation schools and Academies so all applications have to be made to Wiltshire Council.
ACTION: Find out if the school follows the Council’s Admissions Policy (community or controlled schools) or sets its own Admissions Policy (aided, foundation, academy or independent).
When can my child start?
Your child will be starting secondary school in September 2013 if they were born between 1st September 2001 and 31 August 2002. A child moving from another secondary school can usually start at the beginning of a term providing a place is available.
ACTION: Read through the appropriate Admissions policy.
Which schools can my child attend?
You have the right to state a preference for any maintained school.
Your child has no automatic right of entry to any school but it is likely that he or she will be able to attend your local (designated area) school as long as you meet the application deadline. Some faith schools give priority to, for example, baptised Catholics.
No school should exceed its Planned Admissions Number (PAN).
If a school receives more applications than it has places, then it must apply its oversubscription criteria as outlined in the admissions policy. All applicants are then ranked in order of how well the child meets these criteria.
ACTION: Find out your designated area school. If you ring Wiltshire Council on 01225 713010 and give your address, they will be able to tell you the name of your designated school.
Grammar Schools and the 11+
In Wiltshire there are 2 Grammar Schools, Bishop Wordsworth's Grammar School for Boys and South Wilts Grammar School for Girls, both of which are in Salisbury.
In order to be considered for a place at a Grammar School children must take a selection test for the appropriate school. This year for the first time children will sit the test, and the result will be known, before you have to make your application for a secondary school place as detailed in the next section.
You must register your child with the appropriate school in advance of the selection test. From June 2012 you can obtain a Registration Form and a prospectus by contacting either school directly (see below).
The deadline for returning the Registration Form to either school is 7th September 2012 and the test will be held on the morning of Saturday 22nd September 2012.
How do I decide which school will suit my child?
- Visit Wiltshire Council's School Directory where you can search for school information.
- Visit schools and look around.
- Ask other parents about their experience.
- Look at your preferred schools website, prospectus, Ofsted report and School Profile.
- Include your child in the decision making process.
ACTION: Ring schools to arrange a visit; most schools hold open events for prospective parents. Some questions to ask and things to consider:
- How well does my child fit the admission criteria?
- How will my child get to and from school? (Wiltshire Council's transport policy).
- What is the schools specialism and curriculum offer?
- What records will my child’s primary school pass on?
- Will there be information sessions before he or she starts?
- What are the starting arrangements?
- What are the lunchtime arrangements?
- Tell me about a typical day?
- Which schools are your child's friends going to?
- What help can I give my child at home?
- How are break times organised?
- How will secondary school be different to primary school?
- What is the school’s policy on uniform?
- What is the school's policy on discipline/bullying/absence?
- What are the times of the school day?
ACTION: Write down the things you really want to ask when you visit schools.
Children with Disabilities or Special Educational Needs (SEN)
If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs, you will be offered a place at the school named on the statement and you do not need to fill in a school application form.
If your child does not have a statement you should explain your child’s needs when you ring or visit and ask how the school will support those needs. All schools have a SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) with whom you can discuss your child’s needs.
Mainstream secondary schools are able to provide a high level of personalised support so that all pupils can take advantage of the school community and activities as much as possible. A personalised approach to supporting children means tailoring learning to the needs, interests and aspirations of each individual.
ACTION: Talk to schools about any additional needs your child may have.
ACTION: Contact the ask Parent Partnership Service (aPPS) if you require advice or support.
Other Common Issues
- Children who attend primary schools attached to secondary schools do not automatically transfer into the school. You have to apply for a place in the normal way.
- If you want to apply for a school place during the secondary school year, either because you are moving to the area or you wish to transfer schools, you should complete a transfer application form. This is available from your home local authority and should be returned to them once completed.
- You can apply for a place in a Wiltshire school even if you do not live in the county. Apply to your home local authority.
- Parents who move into the area have to make an application in the same way as Wiltshire residents.
- If you choose not to send your child to school you need to prove to the Local Authority that you are able to meet their educational needs.
Joe Evans, Examinations & Admissions Officer, South Wilts Grammar School for Girls, Stratford Road, Salisbury SP1 3JJ
Tel 01722 343747 or email email@example.com
Catherine Short, Admissions Registrar, Bishop Wordsworth's Boys Grammar School, 11 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EB
Tel 01722 424730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How and when should I apply?
In order to secure a secondary school place for September 2013, if you live in Wiltshire (except in the Borough of Swindon) you need to apply using the common application form to Wiltshire Council ensuring that it reaches the Admissions Team before noon on 31st October 2012.
If you live outside Wiltshire, even if you are applying for a Wiltshire school, you need to apply to your own local authority by 31st October 2012. More information on other counties can be found on our Other Counties web page.
After this date applications will be not be considered until after places for those applying before the deadline are allocated; therefore, it is very important to apply before the October deadline.
From September 2012 applications for September 2013 can be made online on the Wiltshire Council website .
When applying online you must click on submit at the end of the form to ensure the application has gone through successfully, you will get an email confirming its receipt.
Application forms will be sent to all maintained primary schools in Wiltshire, for all year 6 pupils, in September 2012.
Alternatively, application forms will be available from secondary schools, libraries or Wiltshire Council on 01225 713010 or http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/application-form-secondary-school-2013-14.pdf (from September 2012).
You can list up to three schools in preference order on the application form and you can give reasons for these such as your preference for a faith school, wanting your child to be at the same school as older siblings or medical reasons.
It is advisable, where practical, to name three preferences on your form (starting with your favourite first) and we strongly advise you to include your local designated school as one of these, as this reduces the risk of being allocated a school you don't like.
The LA will then process all the applications and post letters to parents informing you which school your child has been offered a place at on 1st March 2013 as long as you applied by the October deadline.
You do have the right to appeal for any school which has refused you a place.
ACTION: Apply online or get the relevant form and apply for a school place before the deadline.