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Starting secondary education

Co-ordinated secondary admission arrangements

All local authorities are required by regulations as described in the School Admissions Regulations 2012 to have co-ordinated admissions for all schools within its area for each academic year. 

Co-ordination establishes a mechanism that ensures that, as far as practical, every child living in a local authority area who has applied in the normal admissions round receives one and only one offer of a school place on the same day.

The Local Authority co-ordinates the admission arrangements for all schools within its area in the normal admissions round. This involves receiving all applications and supplementary forms, then writing to parents/carers informing them which school place has been allocated.

Transition days

Once a child has been allocated a school place the Local Authority will pass their details onto the receiving school.

The secondary school will contact the primary school that the child is currently attending and arrangements will be made for a visit to their future school.

  • Wednesday 26th June 2024 (not applicable for Carmel College)
  • Thursday 27th June 2024
  • Friday 28th June 2024

Pupils transferring to secondary school in September 2024/25

Children who were born between 1 September 2012 and 31 August 2013 will transfer to secondary school in September 2024.

Parents/carers have a right to express a preference for a secondary school(s) they prefer but there is no guarantee that a place can be allocated at one of them.

Do you live in the Borough of Darlington?

YES - Then you must apply on the Darlington Secondary School Application form (SSA). No matter which secondary schools you are interested in, whether located in the Borough of Darlington or in another local authority area.

NO - If you don't live in Darlington then you must apply on the application form supplied by the local authority area that you live in.

How to apply

Secondary guide for parents 2024-25 [pdf document]

The online portal opens on 11 September 2023.

The easiest way to apply is to complete the online application form. If you do not have access to the internet, then an application form can be obtained from the Schools Admissions Team.

Forms should be returned directly to the Schools Admissions Team, Town Hall, Darlington, DL1 5QT by 31 October 2023.

Forms received after 31 October 2023 (late applications) will only be considered in exceptional circumstances (such as families who have moved into the area after the closing date). These applications will be considered up to and including 03 November 2023.

It is important that you read the above guide in conjunction with your application, this will be available on 11 September 2023.

Where a family intends to move into the Borough, a request for a school place based on the new address cannot be considered until a letter is provided from a licensed conveyancer or solicitor confirming exchange of contracts. 

All applications determined as "late" will only be considered once the process for allocating places has been applied to those applications received by the deadline.

Expressing your preference of school

The law allows parents/carers to express a preference for the school(s) they wish their child to attend but must do so on the application form for their local 'home' authority.

All local authorities talk with each other for applications received for schools in their authority area.

Although all applications for Darlington schools will be considered on an equal weighting basis, should a child be eligible for a place at more than one school, parents/carers are requested to rank their order of preference on the SSA in order that only one offer will be made.

The relevant admissions criteria will be applied to all schools that are oversubscribed by the governing body of the school(s) requested.

Before you make your final decision you are strongly advised to read the Local Authority's Secondary Admissions Guide for Parents which will be available in September 2023, as it contains all the information you need to make an application.

If you prefer a school based on free school transport then you should consider whether you would be eligible before stating it as a preference.  Contact the school admissions team to find out if you would be eligible.

You should also find out which school(s) you prefer by visiting the school and meeting the Head Teacher, staff and children. 

Each school also produces a prospectus and will hold open events during the application process.

The prospectus includes information about the school and details about the curriculum, attendance and admissions arrangements to help you decide which school is right for your child.

You can also find reports about schools [external link] on the website of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and annual school performance tables [external link].

Offer process

Most children attend the nearest appropriate school from their home address. However some parents/carers may wish their children to attend a different school. The Local Authority will comply with parental requests where a place is available in the requested school. It is however, a good idea to list more than one school. If you only state one preference and we cannot offer your child a place at that school, there may be few schools left with places available, should you choose to go through the appeals process and you are not successful.

Offer letters will be issued on 1 March 2024.

Parents will have an initial 14 working days to respond to the offer letter to accept/decline the school place offered. You are required to reply to the offer by 20 March 2024.

If you do not respond you will receive a reminder letter and after 21 working days from the offer being made, the LA will then look to withdraw the offer.

Should your child be unsuccessful in gaining a place at your preferred school(s), parents/carers will receive a single offer of a school place at the nearest school to the parental address with available places.

The Head teacher cannot offer your child a place or guarantee that a place will be available at the school.

For any enquiries regarding the process, contact the School Admissions Team on 01325 406333 or by emailing [email protected].

Applications from overseas children

In most cases children arriving from overseas have the right to attend schools in England.

Nationals entering the UK who wish to apply for a state-funded school place should check that they have a right of abode or the conditions of their visa otherwise permit them to access a state-funded school.

For further information/guidance please visit the DfE website at[external link] or use the following .gov link Schools admissions: applications for overseas children [external link].


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