Starting Secondary School
An important step regarding secondary education comes at the beginning of Year 6 when you will have to start thinking about which school your child will be attending. You will get the opportunity to visit the secondary schools of your choice and then submit your form in the first term of the school year, usually sometime in October. Of course you may already know which one you would like your child to attend. Those in independent schools will probably carry on at the same school. However, all state educated children in Brighton and Hove will change school at the age of 11. In most cases they will attend the school for five years and they will then have the option of studying at one of the city's colleges. (The majority of state secondary schools do not have a sixth form.)
One of the major differences between choosing a primary school and a secondary school is that your child will probably have their own idea of where they want to go. Children will be aware of which schools their friends are choosing and this can influence their choices. Your child will also visit the schools with you and get their own impression of each. They will get a feeling of where they would feel happiest. This may, of course, cause some conflict between you and your child if you disagree on which school to choose.
Some state schools excel in different subjects and different extra curricular education. It is worth considering your own child's interests and how they will be met by the school. For example, if your child is into drama, does the school have a good drama department, or if your child is really sporty does the school have good sports provision? These are things you can find out when visiting the schools.
Once you have visited the secondary schools you are interested in you will have to submit your choices. When considering your options it is worth bearing in mind the following admissions policies.
You can choose three schools. You should put your first choice first, and the council does endeavour to place as many children as possible with their first choice. It is important to put two other choices otherwise, if your first choice can't be met, the council will allocate the next nearest school to your home, but this will only be after everyone else's first, second and third choices have been decided. This may mean that if all the schools near to your home become full, your child may have to travel some distance to another school.
It is crucial to get your form in on time otherwise your chances of getting your first choice drop considerably. This is because the council look at the ‘on time' forms first and allocate those places first.
If the school of your choice is oversubscribed (i.e. there are more applicants than there are places at the school) then the council implements five priorities.
- Children in the care of a local authority.
- Compelling medical or other exceptional reasons for attending the school. (If you think this applies to your child then you must supply evidence with your preference form.)
- Sibling link.
- Catchment area (this is the area around the school that the council has defined).
- Other children (your child will be placed in this category if he or she does not fall into any of the first 4.)
Some people think that you have to choose a school within your catchment area, but this is not the case. It is worth bearing in mind though, that if you don't get your choice of school you will be offered a place at a school within your catchment area, as long as there are enough places.
The address at which your child is living will be the one which determines the catchment area it falls into. Whilst it is recognised that some children have more than one address, it is the address at which child benefit is received and where the child is registered with a doctor that the admissions team normally uses. If your chosen school is oversubscribed and priority 4 is being considered then the admissions team may ask for proof of address. However, in any case, proof of your address, even if it falls into the catchment area of your chosen school, does not guarantee you a place at that school.
We wouldn't want to alarm anyone but it is a criminal offence to give false information when applying for a school.
You may find the following websites useful: