How Is It Secondary School Places Planning Already?

How is it already time for me to be thinking about my son’s secondary school place? He was only just starting school, and now here we are, about to go into his final term of Year 5. 

This means that by the end of this year, we need to have applied for his secondary school place. 

We have started looking into this and my son and I did go and look at a couple of schools a few months ago. 

Our town has several secondary schools to choose from, along with two grammar schools (a boys and a girls) and we’re then in catchment for a boys grammar a little further afield. 

It’s a fair bit of choice and therefore a fair bit of decision making. 


My daughter’s at a girls school, so where she is doesn’t come into deciding where my son goes. There are no sibling rules to get him into her school, he is never going to make it in there!

Which leaves him completely free to make his own choice about where he’d like to go. With our guidance, of course.

I don’t generally go on reports, or even results, but rely more on people’s experiences with schools and my own gut instinct when visiting them. 

We both really liked our nearest school when we looked around it. My son was enthusiastic about it and I could see him doing well there, being happy there.

Now, you’re thinking, job done then? If only!

I know it works differently all over the UK, and certainly all over the world, but just because it’s our nearest school, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he’d get a place there.

In fact, based on the places that were just offered last month, we wouldn’t have been in catchment this time, for the first time ever. 

Of course we’d fall out of the catchment area just as it’s getting time for us to need to be in it!

Which means we do have to look at other options.

The boys grammar is just around the corner from our house. Less than a five minute stroll, it really is that close. So I think that’s going to be a possible back up option for us.

My son was planning to give the 11 plus test a go anyway, living where we do, but he didn’t love the school when he looked around it hence it wouldn’t be his top choice. 

We’ve started looking through the practice books to prepare him for the exam, he’s getting a feel for the types of questions he’ll be asked and how best to approach them.

Most of his friends who are planning on taking the test are being tutored for it, some of them have been tutored for it for months, even years. We’re a fair bit behind, but he’s a bright kid, he’ll give it a shot. That’s all he can do.

We’ll then need to have a look around another couple of schools, that we’d dismissed really as we were happy with our nearest school. We would be able to get in to some others, further afield, so we need to look at them with an open mind in case that’s where he’ll end up having to go. 

The really small catchment this year has thrown us off, so it’s back to the drawing board on this one. 

We’ll remain hopeful that we will get him into his first choice next March, but in the meantime, we need to keep our options open.

How did you find the school places process in your area? It’s quite frustrating here!


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2 thoughts on “How Is It Secondary School Places Planning Already?”

  1. How is that even possible that it’s almost time for your boy to go to secondary school!! Time really does fly!
    With my two it was simple, my youngest followed her sister into the secondary school but with your boy you have all the choices to make again. Good luck. x

    1. I know! Where does the time go? It is tricky as we need to decide, just hoping he gets what he wants when the time comes round x

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