Guide to moving up to secondary school

Last updated: 7 August 2023

Understanding the terms we use

These are some of the terms we use for the admission rules and policies for Community schools. The one Community secondary school in Buckinghamshire is:

  • The Buckingham School

Many Academies, Foundation, Free and Voluntary-Aided schools, use the same terms as us.


The person who is the child’s ‘parent’ should make the application.

  • A parent is defined in law (the Education Act 1996) as ‘Any person who has ‘parental responsibility’ (defined in the Children Act 1989) for the child or young person.’


  • Any person who has care of the child or young person.

If two parents with parental responsibility live at different addresses, the parent to whom the Child Benefit is paid should make the application with the full knowledge and consent of the non-resident parent.

If Child Benefit is not received, then the parent living at the address where the child is registered with a GP should make the application. Otherwise, the parent with whom the child spends the greater part of the school week (from Sunday evening to Thursday evening) should apply.

We may ask for evidence if circumstances have changed in the past 18 months. See the information about shared or joint residence that we cover later.

Normal Home Address

This is your child’s home address; it is where you and your child live together, unless you can show that they live elsewhere with someone with legal care and control of your child. This must be a residential property that is your child’s only or main residence.

It must also be a property that can be permanently occupied 52 weeks of the year without any restrictions on occupation and not subjected to any planning or contractual restrictions on the duration of occupancy.

It must be your child’s only or main residence that is owned, leased or rented by the child’s parent(s) or person with legal care and control of the child.

It cannot be an address at which your child may sometimes stay or sleep due to your domestic arrangements.

A child’s Normal Home Address is where he or she spends most of the week, unless it is accommodation at a boarding school.

In deciding which is your Normal Home Address we would not usually accept an address if:

  • you or your family has a second home elsewhere as a main residence. We expect that you have sold, or leased, through an agency, your previous property or that a lease agreement on a property you previously rented has expired and that you have no other residence.
  • only part of a family has moved out of the Normal Home Address unless this was part of a divorce or permanent separation arrangement. If this is the case, we will ask for evidence.
  • two or more families claim to be living together in a property which is not suitable for the number of adults and children present and for which there is no formal record of this arrangement.
  • a child moves to a home other than with their parent, unless this is part of a formal fostering or care arrangement. We may check this information.
  • the address is that of a holiday home. A family living at a known holiday home address will be asked to provide leasing evidence and if there is a limitation on the tenancy then it will not be accepted.

We can refuse to accept where you say your child lives if we have any doubts, in which case we will continue to ask for evidence to show that you and your family live where you say you live. We may ask our legal team to investigate or ask that you provide legal confirmation of your address. We may check the evidence you have provided with other agencies, including your child’s current school.

If we offer a place at a school and then discover that the offer was made on the basis of fraudulent or misleading information (for example, a false claim to living in a catchment area), and this denied a place to another child, the offer of that place will be withdrawn. This has happened in previous years.

Make sure you tell us if you move to a new house after you have made your application.

Where Service families or families of other Crown Servants are posted to the area, we will allocate school places in advance of the move if an official government letter declaring the relocation date and intended address is provided.

Shared or joint residence

To avoid doubt, where a child lives with parents/carers (with or without parental responsibility) with shared responsibility whether for part of a week, or month, the address where the child lives for admission purposes will be the address at which we are satisfied the child spends most of the school week.

We will take into account the address at which the child spends the greater proportion of the school week from Sunday evening to Thursday evening.

Where there is an equal split or there is any doubt about residence, we will make a judgment about which address to use for allocation purposes. In making this judgment we will take into account the following:

  • any legal documentation confirming residence
  • the pattern of the residence
  • the period over which the current arrangement has been in place
  • confirmation from the previous/current primary school of the contact details and home address provided to them by the parents
  • which parent is in receipt of Child Benefit
  • where the child is registered with a GP
  • any other evidence the parents may supply to confirm the situation.

We may ask for further evidence.

The person completing the application must ensure that they have parental responsibility for the child in question. They must also ensure that the application has the agreement of all people with parental responsibility. There is more information for parents who have shared or joint residency here.

Looked After Child

For admission purposes, a ‘Looked After Child’ is either:

  • a child in the care of a local authority or who is being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services functions. This covers accommodated children and those who are in care under a Care Order or Interim Care Order. This can include living with family or friends, in foster care, in a children’s home, residential school, special school or in supported lodgings
  • a child who was previously looked after and immediately after being looked after became the subject of an adoption, child arrangements order or special guardianship order

A Child Arrangements Order is an order setting the arrangements to be made as to the person with whom the child is to live under the Children and Families Act 2014.

A Special Guardianship Order appoints a child’s special guardian(s) under Section 14A of the Children’s Act 1989.

This may also include children who appear to have been in state care outside of England and ceased to be in state care as a result of being adopted A child is regarded as having been in state care in a place outside of England if they were accommodated by a public authority, a religious organisation or any other provider of care whose sole purpose is to benefit society.

For applications under either of these rules, provide a letter from your child’s Social Worker or other documentary evidence confirming this situation.


A sibling is a brother or sister – for admission purposes, we mean one of two (or more) individuals who have one or more parents in common or any other child (including an adopted or fostered child) who lives at the same address and for whom the parent also has parental responsibility, or, (in the case of a fostered child) delegated authority.

We will only consider a pupil in a secondary school as a sibling if they are at the school in Years 7 to 10 at the time the allocations are made (March 2023). The child must also be expected to still be at the school at the time the younger child would start (September 2023).

When we are allocating places, if we have one place left and the next child on the list is a twin, triplet or of another multiple birth group, we will offer to both twins (or all siblings in the case of other multiple births) even if this goes above the admission number for the school.

Some schools also consider siblings at a linked school, or siblings of pupils who attended the school in the past, so make sure you check the rules for the schools you are applying for.

Exceptional medical or social needs

If you would like your application for your highest preference school to be considered under this rule, you must have a very strong reason for your child attending this particular school.

We would not normally expect a parent to apply under this rule for more than one school.

Not all schools have this rule so make sure you check their admission rules before applying.

Your supporting evidence should be from an independent professional person (this might be a Doctor, Health Visitor or Education Welfare Officer, for example) who knows about your situation and supports your case. It must clearly show why the school is the most suitable for your child and what difficulties there would be if your child went to a different school.

Further information about applying under the Exceptional Medical or Social Needs

We will not collect information for you.

Submit evidence

Use our online form to submit evidence that you would like your child’s application considered under this rule.

We'll require:

  • the parent's details
  • the child's details
  • supporting evidence from an independent professional person

You'll need to create an online account to submit your evidence if you do not already have one. Both the application and evidence must be submitted by the deadline of 31 October.

Submit evidence now

If you are applying under this rule after 31 October, submit your evidence by our later allocation rounds deadlines. We would only expect later applications under this rule if you are submitting a brand new application, or where circumstances have changed/new evidence has come to light since your original application was made.

We will not reconsider an application under this rule if you chose not to share relevant known information with us when you made your original application.

A panel comprising of education experts will decide which children can be considered under this rule before we make each round of allocations.

In order to agree an application under this rule, the Panel will need to see evidence to confirm the following three statements to be true:

  1. The parent has clearly explained why this school above any other would be the most appropriate for their child to attend
  2. The parent has provided independent evidence that clearly supports their claim that this school would be the most suitable for their child
  3. There is no other school that could reasonably be expected to meet the child’s needs

Should you be applying for a school in another area that has a similar rule send your evidence to us and we will forward it to the Local Authority for that school.

Child of a member of staff

To apply under this rule, you (the parent) need to:

  • have been employed at the school for two or more years at the time at which the application for admission to the school is made,


  • have been recruited to fill a vacant post for which there is a demonstrable skill shortage.

This is a post which the school has had difficulty in filling. This might be where the school has taken part in a recruitment drive to fill the post either across the country or worldwide and/or where the post was not filled at the first attempt.

‘School staff’ includes teaching staff on a permanent or fixed term contract exceeding 11 months in duration, and all other staff on permanent or fixed term contracts exceeding 11 months in duration for posts of in excess of 15 hours per week.

Catchment Areas

Most Buckinghamshire secondary schools have a catchment area, which is a geographical area that can give priority for admission to children who live there. Whilst living in a catchment area can help your child’s chances of being offered a place, there is no guarantee that this will be possible. You can work out which catchment areas you live in and which schools are near to you by using the Find my child a school place service.

Some schools in Buckinghamshire have more than one priority admission area, these schools are:

  • John Hampden Grammar School
  • Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School
  • Wycombe High School

There are four Buckinghamshire schools that do not have a catchment area:

  • The Highcrest Academy
  • Pioneer Secondary Academy
  • St Michael’s Catholic School (including the Aylesbury satellite)
  • Sir Thomas Fremantle School

Home to School Distance

We use straight line distance for admission purposes. This is the distance from your child’s Normal Home Address, as set out by Ordnance Survey, to the nearest open school gate available for pupils to use. We use a computerised system to measure straight line distance.

The point we measure to at your child’s address is determined by the Ordnance Survey AddressBase which is an Ordnance Survey data product that provides a National Grid coordinate and a unique reference for each postal address in Great Britain that is on the Royal Mail’s Post Office Address File.

This is different to the shortest walking route which is used for transport purposes – more information is in the School Transport Policy and Guidance.

Make sure you look at each school’s admission rules to see in which situations distance from home to school is used.

Supplementary Information Forms SIFs

Some schools ask you to fill in a Supplementary Form to help them gather extra information about your child that cannot be noted in your application. This will help them decide where your child would come in the admission rules. The Buckinghamshire schools that use a Supplementary Form are:

Once completed, a Supplementary Information Form should be sent directly to the school (not to the Admissions Team). For Year 7 admission in September 2024, the deadline for you to return the form to the school is 31 October 2023.

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Many children with Special Educational Needs go to a local school and are provided with extra support.

There are also Special Schools which support children with particular needs. If your child has (or you expect them to have) an Education, Health & Care Plan, you should email the Special Educational Needs Team or call us on 01296 382269.

You do not need to make a secondary school application through the Admissions & Transport Team if your child already has an EHCP.

Most parents of children with an EHCP will know about their child’s secondary school place before March 2024.

School Admissions Code and Scheme

The School Admissions Code is provided by the Department for Education (DfE) to guide Admission Authorities when dealing with school admission. Visit the Department for Education website for more information.

The Education Act 2002 also requires all LAs to have a ‘Scheme’ to show the arrangements for admission to secondary schools in their area.

The Scheme is in place to make sure that every parent of a child living in the LA area who has applied for a school place in the ‘normal admission round’ receives the offer of one school place. You can read our Scheme on our policies page.

It covers how we allocate school places; we will put your child on the lists for the schools you have on your application. If your child is qualified for grammar school, this will include any Buckinghamshire grammar schools. If your preferred school, or schools, has more applications than there are places available, then whether we can offer a place will depend on where on the school’s rules your child is ranked and how many other children had higher priority for the places available. We use the admission rules to put children into order and then offer the number of places we have available.

Full details of all the Buckinghamshire secondary schools are available in our school directory. You can use our ‘Find my child a school place’ service to show schools near you and to check whether your child would be entitled to free school transport.

Admission rules for schools in other areas

If you are interested in a school located in another LA area, you should contact the LA or school direct for more information about their admission rules. Make sure you check whether Year 7 is the normal time to start at the school, if not you can make an in-year application.