Guide to starting school or moving up to junior school

Last updated: 13 September 2023

Getting the order of your preferences right

You cannot choose a school for your child, but you can tell us which schools you would prefer: these are your preferences. If you live in Buckinghamshire you can include up to six schools in your application.

It is very important that you list your preferred schools in the order you want them: your most preferred school should be number one, followed by your next best option as number two, and so on. We won’t tell any school where you ranked them in your application before offers are made.

We use an Equal Preference Scheme to decide which school your child should be offered. In effect, this means we treat each of your preferred schools like a separate application. The order that you give to your preferred schools (1 to 6) does not affect your child’s priority for a place, instead we use each school’s admission rules to work out your child’s priority for each school separately.

Each child may only have one school offer at a time. If we find that a place is available for your child at more than one of the schools in your application, we then look at your preference order to work out which school you would prefer of the options available: we will always offer the highest preference school possible.

Make sure you enter your school preferences carefully: some schools have similar names. We will not question the schools you include, so make sure you check the information is correct before you submit your child’s application.

Catchment schools

You can use our Find my child a school place service to find out your catchment school(s).

You do not have to include your catchment school, but it is sensible to do so if you would prefer a local school. Children have a greater chance (though not a guarantee) of being offered a place at their catchment school.

We will not automatically consider your child for their catchment school if it is not included in your application.


It is important that you tell us if your child has a brother or sister at any of the schools you have put on your application. If you have more than one child at a school already, always tell us about the younger child. There is space on the application for you to do this.

Some schools also consider siblings at a linked school. Make sure you check the rules of the schools you apply for.

Some schools have a medical or social rule that applications can be considered under. You can see from the admission rules if a school has this rule and the priority it is given.

School transport

Bear in mind that the order of your school preferences can affect whether free school transport is available.

If you do not express a preference for your nearest school, you are unlikely to be eligible for free transport to a school further away.

You can work out your nearest school using our Find my child a school place service.