Apply for a secondary school place

What happens to my application?

Your preferences are considered by each school separately, without regard to the order you ranked them on your application. For each school, your application is prioritised according to their admission criteria and included in a ranked list with every other application for that school.

Places at each school are offered to the highest ranked applicants until the school is full. If your child is ranked high enough to be offered a place at more than one school we offer you only the school ranked highest in your preferences. The place your child could have been offered at lower preference schools is offered to the next child on their ranked list.

Preferences for community schools are ranked by the local authority (Hackney Education for schools in Hackney). Preferences for religious schools, academies or free schools are ranked by the admission authority for the school, usually the governing body or academy trust. Preferences for schools outside Hackney are dealt with in the same way via the local authority where the school is located.

Banding and Cognitive Ability Tests

Most Hackney secondary schools use a process of banding to ensure they admit a wide range of children of different abilities. Every child who applies sits a Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) and the results are used to group applications into different ability bands.

CAT tests for Year 6 will be held at Hackney primary schools between Monday 25 September to Friday 13 October 2023. However, if your child attends a school outside Hackney and you apply for a place at a school that uses banding, they will be invited to sit the CAT at a Hackney secondary school on either Saturday 18 November and Saturday 25 November 2023. You will be contacted by email in November 2023 to tell you the date and venue for your child’s test.

The CAT will last about three hours and will determine the band your child is placed into for each secondary school.

Normally, the same number of children are offered a place from each band group. If there are more applications than places available within each band the school will apply their admission criteria to determine who has priority for the places available in that band. Children who are not offered places will be put on the waiting list within their band group.

Who has priority for school places?

Some applicants have higher priority for places according to their family circumstances. Priority is not determined by who applied first, where the school is ranked in your preferences or how long a child has been waiting for a place.

Every school has admissions arrangements that set out the priority criteria the school will use to rank applicants. You should read the admission criteria for each school before you apply. The school directory includes the 2024/25 admission arrangements for most Hackney schools. You can also find them on school websites, including for schools outside Hackney.

In addition, you should read about common priority criteria


Admissions and Pupil Benefits Team

020 8820 7000
This page was last modified on: 13 Mar 2024