Tell me about the secondary schools in Kent... no waffle, please!

When do children start secondary school?

Kent has a range of secondary schools that take pupils from Year 7, ie from the age of 11 (with the exception of Cranbrook School that takes pupils from Year 9, ie from the age of 13).

How many schools can I apply for?

Four secondary schools or academies. If you live in Kent, you’ll need to fill in Kent County Council's Secondary Common Application Form (SCAF). Or if you're not applying at the standard time, you'll need to fill in an In Year Casual Application Form (IYCAF). You can apply either online at www.kent.gov.uk/ola or submit a paper application.
In addition, many of the voluntary aided, foundation and academy schools will ask you to submit a Supplementary Information Form (SIF). The SIF should be returned to the school. Make sure you’re on time, and the form contains any signatures or documentation that they’ve asked for. You really must fill in the Council’s form too, or your application won’t be processed and you won’t get offered any school at all on allocation day. Visit www.kent.gov.uk/sif

I live in Kent. Can I apply for schools outside Kent?
Yes, use the same form. Kent will coordinate the admissions – and then offer you a place (hopefully at one of your chosen schools… but no guarantees).

I live outside Kent. Can my child be considered for a Kent school?

Yes, your application will be considered alongside the applications from all the children in Kent. You’ll have to name the schools you want on your own
local authority’s application form – and then they’ll let you know the outcome. Don’t use Kent’s online application service, or fill in one of Kent’s forms, if you don’t live in Kent. They don’t like it.

Who’s responsible for the admissions of each school?

It’s the admission authority. If it’s a community or voluntary controlled school, that’s Kent County Council. If it’s an academy, voluntary aided or foundation school, it’s the school’s Trust or governing body. Kent County Council coordinates the admissions so that you only get one offer – even if you would qualify for more than one school.

What happens if a school is oversubscribed?

The admission authority will apply a series of rules to rank the children and select the ones who best fit the criteria.

How can I find out what a school’s oversubscription criteria are?

When you select a school using SchoolGuru, the oversubscription criteria (which we call the Rules) will pop up under the map. You will need to select the first Rule that applies to you, working from Rule 1 downwards. In many cases, we’ve simplified the Rules slightly to strip out the jargon. Sometimes, we’ve renamed them (eg changing a, b, c, to 1, 2, 3 so that you can easily use our Admission Calculators and assess your chances of getting place. You can read the original versions of all the published oversubscription criteria on Kent County Council’s website or on the schools’ websites.

Will we stand more of a chance if we put a school first?

Nope. Kent operates an ‘equal preference’ system – so the schools won’t take into account where you ranked them. In fact, they’ll never get to know where you put them on your list. So rank the schools you want in the order that you like them – don’t try and be strategic about this. If more than one of your preferred schools can offer your child a place, Kent County Council will offer a place at the school you named highest on your application. If only one of the schools can offer your child a place, then Kent County Council will offer you a place at that school. SchoolGuru strongly recommends that you should include at least one ‘safe’ bet in your preferences. Otherwise if you’re unrealistic, you could fail to get all of your preferences, and then you’ll be allocated a school that can’t fill it its places. Trust us, that’s rarely good news. Use SchoolGuru to help you find a safe bet.

What happens if I move house after the application deadline?

You’ll need proof if you want your new address to be used for the school allocations – eg a rental agreement, exchange of contracts, or letter from housing association confirming the date you can move in and your agreement to rent that property. You’ll have to produce your evidence by a set deadline and then be living in your new home by the offer day, otherwise your school place could be withdrawn. If you’re planning to move on or around the deadlines, contact Kent CC asap.

I’m in the army, what address should I use?

If you’re in the Armed Forces, or a Crown Servant, and you’re moving back to the UK, you can…
(a) use the address of a property that you own in the UK or
(b) name a HM Forces Station/Base as your home address.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not living there when you need to apply for schools. Kent County Council must also receive an official government letter (eg MOD, FCO or GCHQ) declaring a relocation date and confirming the intended address. The law allows Kent County Council to use this address as your
family’s main residence but it does not guarantee you a place at your preferred schools.

What counts as my home address? There are a couple of properties I could put down…

You need to put down your child’s main residence – and you can only put one address on the form. If you live separately from your partner but share responsibility for your child, you need to put down the address where the child sleeps for the majority of weekdays. You can’t put down the address of a childminder or granny or best friend or second cousin… or if the Council finds out, your school place could be withdrawn.
The address you put down must be residential and owned, leased or rented to you (as your child’s parent or guardian). You may need to show evidence of ownership, or a written rental agreement, and prove that your child really does live there on a permanent basis. So don’t blag it and put down the address of the corner shop next to the school. Parents (and teachers) are increasingly turning detective and reporting potential fraud to the Council. You’ll get busted.

What happens once I’ve submitted my form?

Kent County Council will swoop into action. If your Kent preferences include a voluntary aided or foundation school or an academy, Kent County Council will send that school your details, as they are responsible for their own admissions. If the school has too many applications for the places available, the governors will use the school’s oversubscription criteria to put applicants in priority order. They won’t ever find out if you ranked them first, second or third – as that’s unimportant under the ‘equal preference’ system that operates in Kent. The schools will pass a ranked list back to Kent County Council so that they can dole out places on their behalf.

I’m not applying at the ‘usual’ time…

Contact Kent County Council to obtain an In Year Casual Application (IYCAF) or download a copy at www.kent.gov.uk - you’re not guaranteed a school of your choice, but if you live in Kent, they’ll find you a school. If you’re not happy with the school they offer, then consider it as a starting point. Phone around schools, and try and ‘trade up’ by going on as many waiting lists as you can. Good luck.

Why don’t the selective schools prioritise siblings under their admission criteria?

Because it would be against the law, and the headteacher could end up sewing mail bags in a room without a view. Under the School Admissions Code, schools allocating more than 10% of their places through selective processes are not able to give priority to siblings (unless the sibling link is used as a tiebreaker to distinguish between two candidates with an equal score in the selective tests).

Kent admissions toolkit:
Primary schools Admission Calculator
Secondary schools Admission Calculator
Guidance & support:
Important dates
School appeals guides
The Kent Test
Top tips
More information