How school preferences work

How to list your first, second and third school preference when applying for a school place.

How to list your 3 school preferences

When you apply for a school place you'll need to list 3 schools you like the most. These are called school preferences.

The order of the school preferences is important. Put your favourite school as the first preference, then the next school you like the most as your second, and so on.

How school preferences work

When you apply for a school place:

  1. Your child is added to a list for each of the schools you listed as a school preference
  2. On each school list, children are ranked in order based on the admission priorities for that school
  3. If only one of the schools you listed as a preference can offer a place, your child will be offered a place at that school
  4. If it's possible to offer your child more than one school place, you will be offered a place at the school you listed as your highest preference
  5. If it's not possible to offer your child a place at any of the schools you listed as your preference, your child will be offered a place at the nearest school to your home address with available spaces
  6. If you're not happy with the school place your child is offered, our school admissions team will let you know about waiting lists, reallocation pools and how to appeal a school place decision

Example 1

You apply for 3 schools in this order:

First preference School A
Second preference School B
Third preference School C


We can offer your child a place at all of the schools. As school A was your first preference, you get offered a place at school A.

Example 2

You apply for 3 schools in this order:

First preference School A
Second preference School B
Third preference School C


School A can't offer your child a school place, but school B and school C can.

As school B was your second preference, which is higher than school C your third preference, you get offered a place at school B.

If school A, B and C are not able to offer your child a place, your child will be offered a place at school D. This is the closest school to your child's main address that has available spaces.

More information

View our school application guides for more information about school preferences.