Parents applying for secondary school places in September 2018 in Bath and North East Somerset will be able to express a preference for five schools as part of the application process, rather than the previous three.

Bath & North East Somerset Council commented that it has increased the number of schools parents can list as a preference for their child’s secondary education from three to five. ‘This will help to ensure that residents selecting schools for September 2018 are able to access a school place within the local authority area, which has some very popular and high performing schools.

The council added, ‘Within the council area, 98% of secondary age pupils attend a school which is rated by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding and 98.4% are able to gain a place at one of their three preferred schools.’

Councillor Michael Evans (Conservative, Midsomer Norton, North) Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We are very fortunate to have many good or outstanding secondary schools in Bath and North East Somerset. The success of local schools means that some also attract a significant number of applications from families living in neighbouring local authority areas.This change to a five preference system will help to ensure local pupils get a place in a nearby school.”

Any school which receives more applications than it has places available must determine who is offered a place by using their published admissions criteria. They cannot offer a place to a local family who have not included that school within their list of preferences.

Councillor Evans added, “With a three preference system, if a family named three very popular schools and were not successful in getting a place at any of them, the local authority would have to offer them a place at the next nearest school which does have a place available. That might be in another town or even in another council area, if local schools have filled up with children from elsewhere. By being able to name five schools, that family will at least be able to be considered for more local schools, and since most schools prioritise using distance, they will stand a good chance of getting a place before it is filled by a family living further away.”