What is the national offer day for a secondary school place?

The 11 Plus Journey


National Offer Day- Getting a Secondary School Place

The very first thing that I would say to you as a parent who has been through this process twice is that it will be OK.
National Offer Day can be a day full of anxiety. Tell me to tell you this. You may feel anxious.
It is a big day. But you can do a few things to lessen the stress and anxiety.
It may seem the outcome or the place matters a lot at the moment. In one year or two, believe me, it will not.
Even if the school your child has been offered is not what you want.
Remember it is the journey, the satisfaction of having persevered through the process of preparing for and applying for a secondary school place.
Give positive praise to yourself, your child and your family for going through the process. This process can be stressful!
It is important to focus on all the positive achievements of the year. You and your child have formed good lifelong habits building strong foundations– timekeeping, resilience, a growth mindset and (hopefully) a healthy work ethic.
March 1st is the National Offer Day. This is the day that you will get an email (or letter through the post if that was an option and you opted for it) to inform you of your child’s place in a secondary school. 
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 catchment criteria for their admissions, but many 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 receive a letter or email containing your offer from your local authority. You can also log on to your council’s portal and see if there are any updates.

The email will inform you whether your child has been given a place at any of the schools you applied for. Please note that the letter by snail mail may arrive a few days after March 1.

The email/ letter is sent by the local authority commonly known as the council where you reside.

A letter from the school where your child has been offered a place may follow. Some schools send this letter, others don’t. 

You must accept the offer by the deadline given in the offer letter. Otherwise, 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 local council’s responsibility to provide a place at another school.  This is usually your nearest school where places are available.


How do I 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. Read the letter carefully.

It is strongly encouraged not to refuse the offer so that your child is not left without a place.

You can contact the local authority and schools that you applied to place your child on 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 school(s) that you listed in your CAF form above the school that offered your child a place.

This depends on whether your child meets the qualifying score in that grammar school’s selection test and whether you meet the catchment criteria of the school (if there is a catchment policy in place). The child’s name is put on the list usually automatically.

However, I recommend emailing and calling the schools to 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. If you want to add your child’s name to other schools’ (which you have not listed on your CAF list) waiting list, you have to call and email the school to do that yourself. 

Remember, 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 after your child has already started to attend classes at another school.



When you are unhappy with the offer made for your child’s place in a school, you can appeal against this decision. You will be required 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 is a qualified teacher and was previously on the panel of a local authority’s Educational Appeal Department.


In the video, Sheena explains 

– what your best options are for appealing a school decision
– possible grounds for appeal, including social and medical
– ensure your argument is robust and evidence-based


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


Applying to another school 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.


It’s not where you go but what you make of where you go
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 even two years of preparation.
Every year there are more uncertainties added to the test, catchment rules change, the test gets tougher and competition increases. And you and your child (and family) have faced these tough situations.
Have you heard the phrase, ”diamonds are created under pressure”? It means that diamonds are formed through a geological process that involves immense pressure and heat. But this phrase has a deeper meaning beyond just the formation of a precious gemstone. It is also a metaphor for learning to handle and overcome difficult times.

If you are a parent of a child in years 3, 4 or 5, find out how you can get the help you need through our coaching, course for parents and our communities by visiting our home page.

Book a call with Sabah by clicking this link

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