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Secondary school admissions preference system

Find out how the preference system works when you are applying for a secondary school place for your child.

When you apply for secondary school places, you can put up to six schools on your application. You need to list the schools in preference order. Your chance of being offered a school you have applied for will not increase if you apply for fewer schools.

It is very important to list the schools in the order of which you would most like your child to go to. We will use your preferences to allocate school places.

How preferences work

You are offered one school place on national offer day. If your child qualifies for a place at more than one school on your list, we will offer you a place at the school that comes highest on your list of preferences. 

If we can’t offer you a place at one of the schools you applied for, we will offer you a place at the school closest to your home where there is a vacancy.

Examples of the preference system

  • Child A has applied for six schools. The child does not qualify for a place at the first or second preference school but does qualify for a place at their third preference school. We offer the third preference school to the child on national offer day. The fourth, fifth and sixth preference schools are ‘settled’ as they were ranked lower on the list. The child stays on the waiting list of their first and second preference schools and they will get the right of appeal.
  • Child B has applied for six schools. The schools are oversubscribed and the child does not qualify for a place at any of them. We tell the parent the outcome and about their right to appeal. We offer a place at a school in Lewisham where there is a vacancy as an alternative.
  • Child C has applied for six schools and can be offered a place at their first preference school on national offer day. All of the other schools named on the list are ‘settled’. The child has an older brother at their third preference school and, after national offer day, the parent decides they want the child to go to that school instead. Because the parent has gone through the admissions process and secured a place at a higher preference school, they can’t submit a further application or change the order of their applications until the start of school. The parent will need to complete an in-year application if they still want their child to move school.
  • Child D has applied for six schools, all outside the borough, but does not qualify for a place at any of them. We offer the parent a place at a school where there is a vacancy and tell them about their right to appeal. However, the parent wants their child to go to a school close to their home, which they hadn’t applied for. That school is oversubscribed and has not been able to offer all applicants a place. This means child D can’t apply for a place at the school close to their home until the start of school. The parent will need to complete an in-year application if they still want their child to move school.

Get in touch

Secondary School Admissions and Appeals

Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, SE6 4RU
Email: secondaryadmissions@lewisham.gov.uk
Opening hours:

Telephone lines are open Tuesday to Thursday, 9am–1pm