Moving for a secondary school place? Start your search now

The current academic year will go down as one of the most unusual in history but despite lockdown and the fact many students are still completing their school work from home, parents need to be thinking ahead – especially those with children currently in year five.

Looming on the horizon is the deadline for secondary school applications, which is generally around 31st October every year for those whose children are moving up to year 6 in September 2020 (although it is worth checking with your local authority’s education department in terms of the exact application deadline). This may sound like a way off in terms of timings but for parents who have their hearts set on a specific secondary school, preparations should start now.

The closest wins

Schools vary widely in terms of Ofsted ratings and reputation, therefore some schools are more in demand than others. To deal with oversubscription, many secondary schools operate a preference system based on location – favouring those who live closest to the school or in a prescribed area. Even in the case of selective facilities – such as grammars and faith schools – a child’s distance from the school can have a bearing on the application outcome. In some instances, even 0.1 of a mile matters.

It’s all about the address

Every parent applying for a secondary school place by 31st October will need a valid address – where they live on a permanent basis, with their child, and not that of a property they rent out or of a relative. Local authorities are very wise to the fact that some parents will manipulate the truth in order to provide a favourable address and council’s have investigators actively cross-checking documents against databases, so honesty is the best policy. If you are found to be acting fraudulently, an offer of a school place can be withdrawn.

Moving to be within catchment

Many parents realise that to stand the best chance of getting their child into a specific secondary school, they need to move closer to the facility. Any move needs to have at least exchanged by the application deadline to be considered valid, and your local authority may require a letter from your solicitor confirming a completion date and evidence you are cutting ties with your current property for reassurance. If you are intending to rent a new property closer to a secondary school, you should expect to provide a signed tenancy agreement for at least 12 months showing your new address.


All about the timings

Moving home can take months – from the day you decide to relocate to the day you collect the keys to a new property. If your aim is to have a new permanent address before 31st October 2020, we suggest you start the process now, so there’s adequate time for searching, viewings, negotiations and for the legal/administration process to conclude before the deadline passes. We can get your home on the market within a matter of hours of you getting in touch with us, as well as help you find a new home in the right location for your chosen school.


Do note, you should check any school’s catchment area before you start your property search. Don’t get caught out by assuming the school itself will be in the centre of a distance circle – sometimes the catchment will be an irregular shape and the school to one side. In other situations, a school will have a list of favoured postcodes or parishes. We can draw on our local knowledge to help you choose a new home in the right location, so please ask for our advice.

Start your move today

If you’d like to know more about moving for a secondary school place and would like to be settled in a new home well before the application deadline, contact us today.