When to apply for secondary school 2023: And how many you should apply for

When to apply for secondary school 2023: Find out all you need to know…

When to apply for secondary school 2023 illustrated by students putting hands up
(Image credit: Getty / Future)

Secondary school applications are already at the forefront of parents’ and carers’ minds. While it might feel early, school applications open from the 1st of September. 

Basically, when schools break for summer, is when that secondary school applications ball starts rolling. The reason for this is that councils then have time to allocate children before the date when secondary school places are announced. It also gives parents the chance to launch a school appeal if their child doesn't get the school they want. Before you choose a school it's always worth going to visit it. And before you do that, it's always good to have a few questions for a primary school to hand.

Important to note: Even if the primary school your child goes to has links to the secondary school, you are not guaranteed a place. It is still necessary to apply for a secondary school place. This isn't always an easy process and it can take a while, so it's best to begin secondary school applications as soon as possible.

When to apply for secondary school 2023?

Applications can be made between 1 September and 31 October 2022.

Secondary school applications open 9am on Thursday 1st September 2022. Though, each local council may open its applications on a different date; find out your area’s opening application date on Gov.co.uk.  If your child is born between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012, they are due to start secondary school in September 2023.

The deadline for applications - nationwide - is Monday 31st October 2023. The gov.co.uk site warns: ‘Your child is less likely to be offered a place at their chosen schools if you miss the deadline for applications.’

To apply for a private school, contact the school directly for information on applications as this goes through them directly.

If your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) there is a different process for secondary school applications. Contact the Special Educational Needs team at your local council.

What month do you apply for secondary school UK?

You can apply from 1st September through to 31st October 2022. If you have children in Year 5 then you may be already getting ready for the application process to year 7 in September 2023.

When should I start looking at secondary schools?

Secondary School Open Days are usually open to children in Year 5. If there are grammar schools in your area, it's definitely worth looking at schools at the start of Year 5 so you can decide whether you want your child to sit the 11+. 

If you know where you want your child to go, applications for a secondary school can happen once your child starts Year 6. 

Open days are often advertised by schools and provide important insights into a school's ethos and learning culture and are an important deciding factor when choosing a school.

How many secondary schools should I apply for?

When you complete the application form, it'll ask you to write down the schools you're applying for in order of preference. It's important that you list complete the form fully and write down up to six schools that you want to apply for. As the government's website says, listing just one won't make it more likely that your child gets a place there.

Writing down six choices means you're more likely to get at least one of the schools on your preference list, rather than a random one allocated by the council.

Consider each school's admissions policies and previous years' application rates to see whether your child is likely to be offered a place. You cannot list independent (fee-paying) schools on the application form. 

When to apply for secondary school 2023 illustrated by Orange infograhic

(Image credit: Future)

What do I do when the applications open?

Stay calm. We know there’s a lot to do for time-poor parents. Here are some tips shared with us from parents who have gone through secondary school applications; 

  •  keep a record of all your username and passwords you use when you register online 
  • You can amend the application as many times as you need up to 31 October. You do not have to wait until you have the results of selection or aptitude tests 
  • remember to register for any other aptitude tests, for example If living in Kent there is a ‘Medway Test (11+)'. 
  •  Make one choice a school in your catchment area 
  •  Use all five/six preferences when you apply 

When are places announced?

Councils will send out offers of primary school places on Wednesday 1st March 2023 - also known as 'National Offer Day'.- for the September start date later that year. If this date falls on a weekend or bank holiday, councils send offers the next working day. 

Here’s what happens after the closing date and the National Offer Day;

  • applications are processed, addresses checked
  • applications are ranked per school and checked
  • all offers are recorded and highest offer possible matched
  • exchanges of files with other local authorities for schools outside the area and applicants applying from other local authorities
  • offers are drafted and prepared
  • offers are finalised and outcomes ready in time for Wednesday 1 March 2023
  • Deadline for acceptances Wednesday 15 March 2023.

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Stephanie Lowe
Stephanie Lowe

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodTo covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. With his love of choo-choos, Hey Duggee and finger painting he keeps her on her toes.