National Offer Day- Getting an offer for a place in secondary school


National Offer Day- Getting an offer for a place in secondary school

The very first thing that I would say to you as a parent who has been through this process twice is to celebrate. National offer day can be a day full of anxiety but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is or even if it is not what you wanted. It is important to feel joyful at having persevered through the process of applying for a place in secondary school. Give positive praise to yourself, your child and your family for going through the journey. This process can be stressful! It is imperative to focus on all the positive achievements of the year gone by. You and your child have formed good lifelong habits building strong foundations– timekeeping, resilience, a growth mind-set and (hopefully) a healthy work ethic.
Many of you may have gone through the 11 plus tests for various schools, especially the selective Grammar schools. You may have put in an entire year or more of preparation. This year with uncertainties, delays around test dates and the suspension of schools under lockdown only added to the hurdles.
March 1st is the National Offer Day. This is the day that you will have gotten an email or letter through the post to inform you of your child’s place in a secondary school. This is sent by the local authority or council where you reside.
Places are offered after careful consideration of a variety of factors. These include the order of preference that you have listed the schools in, your Common Application Form (CAF), the score obtained in an entrance test (applicable to selective Grammar schools), catchment area policy (few schools do not follow a catchment criteria for their admissions, others do) and so on. There are also adjustments made for cared-for children and those who may need extra help. In these cases, each school has its own rules and arrangements.

How will I receive an offer?
You will have received a letter or email containing your offer from your local authority. It will inform you whether your child has been given a place at any of the schools you applied for. Please note that the letter may arrive a few days after March 1. A letter from the school where your child has been a offered a place may follow.

You must accept the offer by the deadline given in the offer letter. Else, it may be withdrawn and the place offered may be given to someone else.

If your child is not offered a place at any of the schools you’ve applied for, it is the responsibility of the the local council to provide a place at another school.  This is usually your nearest school with places still available.

How do you respond to the offer? 
This will again be detailed in the letter. You can either accept the offer that you have been given or if you are not happy with the offer, you can consider appealing the decision. If you want to accept the offer, your offer letter will state how to do this. The deadline by which to accept the offer will also be stated, so do read the letter extremely carefully.

It is strongly encouraged not to refuse the offer so that your child has a guaranteed place. You may of course contact the local authority and schools that you had applied to for placing your child in the waiting list of the schools you want your child to go to.


Waiting lists:
Waiting lists will be created soon after the offer of school places. This is usually a couple of weeks later. Your child’s name will be added to the waiting list for any higher preference schools (in your CAF list) than the one offered. This depends on whether your child meets the qualifying score in the grammar school selection test and you meet the catchment criteria of the school (if applicable). The child’s name is put on the list usually automatically but do call the schools and enquire whether your child’s name has been placed on the list. You can also take this opportunity to find out about your child’s position on it. Being on a waiting list does not mean that a place will become available. It simply means that should a place become available, it may be offered to you.

You can add your child’s name to a waiting list even if they have been offered a place at another school.

If your child is on a waiting list and the school offers you a place, the admission authority will send you a formal offer. You can accept the offer even if your child has already started at another school.

When you are not happy with the offer made for your child’s place in a school, you can appeal against this decision. You may be able to submit in advance additional information in support of an appeal using the form available on your local authority’s website.

Watch this video on our Youtube channel on  School Admissions Appeals conducted by Sheena Chan, Founder of Equality Tuition. Sheena sat on the panel of a local authority’s Educational appeal department. She went through the following points:

– what your best options are for appealing a school decision

– ensure your argument is robust and evidence-based
– possible grounds for appeal, including social and medical
This session took place in our facebook group- the 11 plus Journey Facebook group.

The Good Schools Guide has also produced a free booklet for parents who would like advice and are considering appealing their child’s school offer. It may be accessed here.

Applying after the start of the school year
If you would like to apply for a school place once the school year has started, contact your local authority. These are known as in-year applications. The relevant department and people should be able to tell you which schools still have places and how to apply.

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