Choosing school preferences

When you apply for a school place, the form asks you to give a first, second and third school preference. 

Why you should use all three preferences

You should give all three preferences to give the best chance of getting a place at a school of your choice. Do not name the same school more than once as this will count as giving only one preference.

If you only give one preference for a child starting in September in reception or year 7 and the school you choose is over-subscribed (has more applications than places), we will offer you a place at the nearest school with a vacancy after all other places have been allocated. This means the place may not be at a school you would have chosen. 

School choices and your legal rights

In most circumstances, school admissions authorities have a legal duty to try to meet parent's preferences. But you do not have the right in law to get a place at a school of your choice.

How to decide on school preferences

When you choose your preferences, it is important to think about what the school is like, where it is and how your child will get there, and how likely you are to get a place.

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To find out what a school is like, you can:

  • visit the school to see how you feel about the approach and the environment - go on an open day, or contact the school to arrange a visit
  • look at the school's website
  • read the school's Ofsted report (check the date - the report may date from an inspection some years ago) 

It is your responsibility to make sure your child can get to school safely. It is usually easiest to do this if the school is local.

Choosing a local school also means:

  • children can walk or cycle, which helps them keep fit
  • children can meet up with and chat with friends on the way to school and back
  • it is easier for children to make friends with others who live nearby and to socialise with them outside school
  • it is easier for parents to get to know other parents in the area and get to school events

School transport is available for some pupils.  

Most parents in Cheshire East get a place at their first choice of school. But how likely you are to get a place at a particular school depends on how many people apply. 

When a school gets fewer applications than it has places, it must normally make an offer to everyone who applies. 

When a school is oversubscribed, it may not be able to offer places even to children who already have a brother or sister at the school or who live nearby. Secondary schools that are over-subscribed may not be able to offer places for all children from feeder primary schools.

In most cases, schools do give some priority to children in these circumstances, but the level of priority depends on the school's admissions policy.

For September reception or Year 7 applications, last year's allocations information is a useful guide to what may happen this year.

If you are moving schools, ask your preferred schools whether they are likely to be able to offer a place.  

In Cheshire East, most children's needs can be met at most schools. This means that children with medical or social needs do not normally get priority for places (unless they have an Education, Health and Care Plan that names a school, in which case the school will offer a place.) But schools that set their own admissions arrangements may have different admissions policies.


Page last reviewed: 03 November 2021