Apply for a secondary school place 2021/2022

How to apply for a secondary school place for the 2021/2022 school year. This includes high and upper schools.

School Admission guides

Full details relating to information on this page can be found in the following: 

Search the list of schools' details, admissions policies and Supplementary Information Forms for the 2021/2022 school year

Please be aware: You must consider how your child will travel to and from school before you apply for a school place. Your child might not be eligible for funded school travel to your catchment area school if this is not your nearest suitable school.

Applying for a secondary school place: step by step

Find out if your child is eligible to start secondary school during the 2021/2022 school year.

You must apply for a secondary school place for the 2021/2022 school year by the closing date of 31 October 2020.

This will give you the best chance of being offered a place at one of your preferred schools.

Moving house

If you're moving house, it is still important that you make an application by the closing date.

We will need evidence to show that you are legally committed to your move so that we can use your new address in the on time allocation process. You must send this written evidence to the Admissions Team by the closing date. If this is not possible, then by 4 January 2021 at the very latest.

Late applications

If we don’t receive your application by the closing date it may not be dealt with until after places have been offered to those who applied on time. This means that all of the places at your preferred schools may have already been filled before we process your application.

If you are unable to apply by 31 October 2020, and we agree that there are very exceptional reasons for an application being late, we will consider it as on time if it is received by 4 January 2021 and evidence is provided with your application.

This only applies in circumstances outside your control which made it impossible for the application to have been made on time.

Read the Admissions to Schools in Suffolk 2021/2022 guide for more information about anything in this section.

Find your nearest schools

We strongly recommend that you check which school is your nearest suitable school on our Nearest School Checker because this might not be your catchment area school.

You can find out which are your three nearest Suffolk schools (based on the statutory walking distance including Public Rights of Way) by putting your postcode into our Nearest School Checker

You can use our Nearest School Checker to find schools near you. 

We update this each year to include new roads and developments.

Please see Step 4 for information on Suffolk County Council funded school travel.

Check which school catchment area you live in

A catchment area is the geographical area served by a school. Your catchment area school may not be the nearest school to your child’s home address.

Some voluntary aided, free schools and academies do not operate catchment areas. Please check the school's admissions policy for details.

Use our school catchment area lists to find out if your address has a catchment area school.

You can view the catchment area map for individual schools on Suffolk Infolink

We would only provide Suffolk County Council funded school travel to your Catchment Area School if it is the nearest school to your home that would have had a place available for your child. Please see Step 4 for further information.

If you live near a county border

If you live near the border with Cambridgeshire, Essex or Norfolk you may wish to apply for schools in those local authorities. You can visit their websites for details about the schools in their areas.

If your child lives in Suffolk and you want to apply for a school in a neighbouring authority, you must still apply through Suffolk County Council.

If you live outside Suffolk you must apply to your home local authority if you are applying for a Suffolk school.

Finding information about schools

You can find information about schools in Suffolk and other counties from their:

  • website
  • prospectus
  • open days

Search the list of schools' details, admissions policies and Supplementary Information Forms or read the Directory of Schools in Suffolk. This will help you to understand how places are offered for each school you are interested in, as they may be different from one another.

The list of schools and the Directory includes:

  • contact details for each school
  • the number of places in the year group, known as the Published Admission Number (PAN), and information relating to last year’s on time applications
  • the admissions policy which includes the oversubscription criteria used to rank applications

Choosing your school preferences

You can apply for up to 3 schools, putting them in order of preference.

Each of your preferences will be considered equally and separately.

Your preferences and the order you put them on your admissions application could affect your child’s eligibility for SCC funded school travel. Please see Step 4 for further information.

Listing second and third preferences will not affect your child’s chance of being offered their first preference. Your first preference will be offered above your second or third preferences where possible.

We cannot guarantee your child a place at any school.

Choosing a school for a child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

Read advice and tips for parents choosing a school for a child with SEND.

Suffolk County Council (SCC) Funded School Travel

Please be aware: You must consider how your child will travel to and from school before you apply for a school place.

The following information is very important:

1. We will provide SCC funded school travel to the Nearest Suitable School that would have had a place available for your child when they are: a) aged under 8 and live at least two miles from the school; or b) aged 8 or older and live at least three miles from the school. This would be whether or not an application was made for a place at that school. The nearest school might not be your catchment area school.

2. We strongly recommend that you check which school is your nearest suitable school on our Nearest School Checker because this might not be your catchment area school. You can find out which are your three nearest Suffolk schools (based on the statutory walking distance including Public Rights of Way) by putting your postcode into our Nearest School Checker. We update this each year to include new roads and developments.

3. We would only provide SCC funded school travel to your Catchment Area School if it is the nearest school to your home that would have had a place available for your child.

4. Your School Preferences and the order you put them on your admissions application could affect your child’s eligibility for SCC funded school travel. Our school travel scenarios can help you work out when your child might be eligible for SCC funded school travel to their school when the age and distance criteria are met. 

5. Full details about SCC funded school travel, including additional arrangements for low income families and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), can be found at Suffolk on Board.

You must apply for a secondary school place for the 2021/2022 school year by the closing date of 31 October 2020

How to apply

Apply online

Most parents in Suffolk apply for a school place online. 

When applying online you:

  • will receive confirmation of your application by email
  • can check or change your application right up to the closing date
  • can view the outcome of your application online on the offer day
  • will receive an email with details of your school offer on the offer day

Find the guide to making an online application (PDF, 1.2MB) and help with adding your child's details (PDF, 318KB). These files may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

Proceed to apply online

Your online application must be completed and submitted before midnight on 31 October 2020.

You cannot complete or make a new online application after this time.

Paper applications

When you apply online you must not submit a paper application (CAF1).

If you are unable to apply online you'll need to complete a paper application form (CAF1).  

Your application form must be received on or before 31 October 2020.

You can email or post your application to the Admissions Team. If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can take photos of your application form, evidence or supporting information and attach these to your email.

If you email your paper application (CAF1) or evidence to the Admissions Team, you do not need to send us a copy in the post.

We do not acknowledge receipt of paper applications, so we strongly suggest that you get proof of postage as we cannot be responsible for forms lost in the post.

Supplementary Information Form (SIF)

You may need to complete a SIF if one of your preferences is for the following type of school:

  • Academy
  • Free school
  • Voluntary aided
  • Voluntary controlled

A SIF provides extra information for the admissions authority. This helps them apply their oversubscription criteria to rank your application.

Check the oversubscription criteria for the schools you wish to apply for. Find the oversubscription criteria and the SIFs in the list of schools' details, admissions policies and Supplementary Information Forms or in the Directory of Schools in Suffolk.

You need to send your SIF to the:

  • Admissions Team (if applying for a voluntary controlled school based on religious grounds only)
  • School (all other types of school)

For voluntary controlled schools, your SIF needs to be received by the application closing date.

For all other schools, you will need to check with the school for the date the SIF should be returned.

If you applied online

You'll be able to view the outcome of your application on 1 March 2021, the National Offer Day.

You can view your school place offer by logging into the school admissions portal you used to apply.

You'll also receive an email with details of your child’s offer of a school place.

If you have not been offered a place at your preferred school(s), this email will give you more information about what to do next. This will include details of how to make an appeal.

If you applied on a paper application form

We'll send you a letter by second class post on 1 March 2021 with the offer of a school place.

You'll receive this letter after 1 March 2021.

If you have not been offered a place at your preferred school(s), this letter will give you more information about what to do next. This will include details of how to make an appeal.

Read the Admissions to Schools in Suffolk 2021/2022 guide for more information about anything in this section.

If you're happy with the school your child has been offered

We will assume you have accepted the school place offered to your child if we have not heard from you by 15 March 2021.

This will not affect your chances of getting a place at a higher preference school either:

  • from the waiting list
  • through an appeal (for any of your preferred schools that your child has been refused a place at)

If your child has been offered a school in another county, you may be required to formally accept the place. Please contact the school directly for details.

If you're not happy with the school your child has been offered

Waiting lists

If we are unable to offer your child a place at any of your preferred school(s), we will automatically add their name to the waiting list for that school(s).

Names are placed on the waiting list in priority order. This is set out in the school’s admissions oversubscription criteria.

The order of the waiting list can change when:

  • a new child’s name is added
  • the circumstances of a child already on the list changes

This means a child’s place on the waiting list can go up or down, for example, due to withdrawals or late applications.

The waiting lists will close on 31 December 2021 for:

  • community and voluntary controlled schools
  • voluntary aided schools and academies who have agreed to operate the same policy as Suffolk County Council

You can find out when the waiting lists close for voluntary aided, free schools and academies who do not follow the same policy as Suffolk County Council from the schools directly.

Appealing the decision

You have the right of appeal if your child has been refused a place at any of your preferred school(s).

Find out about the appeals process and download an appeal form.

If you applied on time, you should submit your appeal form to the Education Appeals Office by 13 April 2021.

Appeals received on or before 13 April will be heard by 16 June 2021.

If they are received after these dates they may be heard later. In some case, appeals may not be heard until after the beginning of the new school year.

If you want to apply for a different school(s)

You must submit a paper application form (CAF1) if you wish to apply for a different school(s) after receiving an offer of a school place.

Your new application will replace your earlier application and all your previous preferences.

This means you must include any schools from your earlier application above your new preferences if they're still one of your three preferences and you still want:

  • the right to appeal 
  • your child’s name to remain on the waiting list

You can download Suffolk County Council’s Determined Admission Arrangements for 2021/2022. These include:

  • The oversubscription criteria for community and voluntary controlled schools
  • Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme
  • Published Admission Numbers for Suffolk schools
  • Supplementary Information Form for voluntary controlled schools

You can search the list of schools' details, admissions policies and Supplementary Information Forms for the 2021/2022 school year. 

Find out about Suffolk's Fair Access Protocol.

Ofsted are changing the way they inspect and report on schools. Parents can find out how this will affect them.