Everything you need to know about how secondary school places are assigned in West Sussex

As parents and children across West Sussex receive their secondary school allocations, some families have inevitably been left disappointed.

Some will have given their three preferences before the October 31 deadline last year, still found their children sent elsewhere and will now be wondering what logic drove the decisions.

There have been issues with allocation of secondary school places

There have been issues with allocation of secondary school places

We have broken down West Sussex County Council’s guidance on admissions criteria, to hopefully shine some light on how decisions are made.

Deadlines

Parents could begin applying for schools on September 10, 2018.

Applications had to be received by October 31, or the chance of a child receiving one of their chosen schools was greatly reduced.

Requests were processed between December and February and information exchanged between schools and local authorities.

The big day came on March 1 for applicants who had applied on time, as results were revealed.

From March 29, applications submitted after December 1 will receive their placements.

Who decides how places are allocated?

West Sussex County Council is responsible for allocating places in community and voluntary controlled schools.

Church voluntary aided schools, foundation schools, free schools and academies are classed as ‘own admission authority schools’, i.e. they set their own admissions criteria.

Three Horsham schools – Tanbridge House School (co-educational), The Forest School (boys) and Millais School (girls) – use separate criteria to other West Sussex schools, as do Worthing’s Davison CE High School and Steyning Grammar School.

How are places allocated?

Where more applications are received than there are available spaces, the school is considered to be ‘oversubscribed’ and admissions are decided based on certain criteria.

Several areas of priority are listed and children are assessed against each area – if they fail to meet criterion one, they are assessed against criterion two, and so on until a criterion is met or full capacity is reached.

As mentioned above, church voluntary aided schools, foundation schools, free schools and academies choose their own oversubscription criteria, which can be found on each school’s website.

Criteria for most over-subscribed community and voluntary controlled schools

1. Any child with an Education Health and Care Plan, or a Statement of Special Educational Needs, which specifically names the requested school is automatically given a place.

2. Children in public care, or children who have been in care and left under guardianship, residence, child arrangement or adoption.

3. Children who need a place on exceptional and compelling social, psychological or medical grounds.

4. Children who live in the catchment area with brothers or sisters already attending the school and who will still be there when the child starts.

5. Other children who live in the catchment area.

6. Children who live outside the catchment area with brothers or sisters already attending the school and who will still be there when the child starts.

7. Other children who live outside the catchment area

Where there is a tie-break, i.e. two or more children meet the same criteria but only one can be accepted, the straight line distance to the school is used as a decider. If that distance is the same, the allocation is given at random.

Read these stories about West Sussex children who did not get into their chosen schools:

Tears of boy, 10, facing 30-mile daily round trip to school in Crawley
Parents ‘devastated’ after children miss out on their choice of Horsham secondary schools
Worthing school-split twins offered places at same school - but still miss out on all three choices
Findon father ‘gobsmacked’ that son did not get into chosen secondary schools

Criteria for over-subscribed Horsham schools

The ‘Horsham Community Designated Area’ is split into two catchment areas, with one containing The Forest School and Millais School, while the other hosts Tanbridge House School.

Parents can check www.westsussex.gov.uk/admissions for the exact divide of the catchment areas.

Admissions to each of the schools is then decided on using the following crtieria:

1. Any child with an Education Health and Care Plan, or a Statement of Special Educational Needs, which specifically names the requested school is automatically given a place.

2. Children who need a place on exceptional and compelling social, psychological or medical grounds.

3. Children who reside within the Horsham Community Designated Area, in the following order of precedence:

a. children with brothers or sisters already attending the school who will still be there when the child starts

b. pupils choosing one of the schools in their catchment area will be given priority for that school

c. pupils living in the rest of the Horsham Community Designated Area

4. Children living outside the Horsham Community Designated Area in the following order:

a. children with brothers or sisters already attending the school who will still be there when the child starts

b. other applicants

Horsham MP Jeremy Quin has had his say on Horsham allocations: Horsham school place allocations: MP speaks out

Over-subscription criteria for Steyning Grammar School

Steyning Grammar School is split over two sites – Rock Road in Storrington and Church Street in Steyning.

Applications are made for the school, rather than a specific site.

Steyning Grammar School uses the same criteria as community and voluntary controlled schools, but each site has its own catchment area.

If a child falls outside of both catchment areas, they will be allocated to the nearest site.

Where there is a tie-break, i.e. two or more children meet the same criteria but only one can be accepted, the straight line distance to the school is used as a decider. If that distance is the same, the allocation is given at random.

Over-subscription criteria for Davison CE (voluntary controlled) High School for Girls

Applicants to Davison CE High School were asked to complete a form confirming their church attendance before the October 31 deadline.

Applications were then judged based on the following criteria:

1. Any girl with an Education Health and Care Plan, or a Statement of Special Educational Needs, which specifically names the requested school is automatically given a place.

2. Girls in public care, or girls who have been in care and left under guardianship, residence, child arrangement or adoption.

3. Girls who need a place on exceptional and compelling social, psychological or medical grounds.

4. Girls with a sister already attending the school and who will still be there when the child starts.

5. Girls who attend linked Church of England Primary Schools in Worthing and Shoreham, whose parents are have attended a Christian church at least once a month for at least two years.

6. Girls resident in the Borough of Worthing.

7. Girls not resident in the Borough of Worthing, whose parents are have attended a Christian church at least once a month for at least two years.

8. Girls not resident in the Borough of Worthing.

For full, detailed information visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/education-children-and-families/schools-and-colleges/school-places/school-admissions-criteria-and-policies/school-admissions-criteria-201920/

This is what to do if your child missed a place at their first-choice secondary school