Finding your way through the educational maze
MORE than 10,000 pupils across Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Cheshire East will be transferring to secondary education in September next year.
And the system is becoming more complex as more schools take on academy status and have flexibility to set their own admissions criteria.
But virtually all schools still prioritise children who live in the catchment area or are nearest to the school gates.
Church schools will also give priority to pupils who practise the faith and they may have denominational catchment areas based on church parishes. Other factors include whether a child is in care, has a sibling already attending the school, or has come from a primary that is named as a 'major contributory' school in the admissions criteria.
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Even though a growing number of state schools are in charge of their admissions, the actual forms are still processed through local authorities.
Families should contact the local authority for the area were they live to find out more about how to apply for a school place.
The vast majority of children applying to secondary school will be 11-year-olds and will be transferring to year seven.
But parts of Staffordshire also operate a three tier system of first, middle and high schools and so pupils may be transferring to a new school at age nine or 13 instead.
There are also several schools, including The JCB Academy, in Rocester, and Stoke Studio College, that take pupils from the ages of 14 to 19.
The main deadline for submitting secondary school applications is October 31. Parents will find out on March 1 where they have been offered a place.