Find out about schools

How to find out if a school is suitable for your child.

You will be asked to choose up to three schools when you apply for a place for your child. We would urge you to use all your choices to maximise the chance of getting a school that you want. Try to visit all the schools to get a sense of whether your child will be happy there.

Types of school

Find out about the different types of school in Oxfordshire.

Age ranges

At what age will my child attend different types of school?

  • Nursery: for three to four year olds
  • Infant: for pupils aged four to seven
  • Junior: for pupils aged seven to 11
  • Primary: for pupils aged four to 11
  • Secondary: for pupils aged 11–16 (some secondary schools have sixth forms 16–18)

Find a school

We advise that one of your preferences is your catchment area school. Search for Oxfordshire schools.

Find out about a school

To find out if a school is suitable for your child:

  • visit the school - most schools have open days and evenings, for dates and times please check the school's website.
  • ask other parents what they think about the school
  • check the school’s admissions criteria - this sets out how schools choose which children to offer a school place to
  • find out how a school is performing - see below
  • think about what school transport is available
  • find out how the school can support your child if you are choosing a school for a child with a special educational need.

Questions you may have

How to find out if a school is performing well

Contact the school for a visit and to find out more about the school and read the school prospectus. If possible, talk to parents or carers of children who already go to the school. Pupils are tested and results are compiled into performance tables. You can also read the latest OFSTED report to learn what the school does well and where it needs to improve. Reports are available from the from the OFSTED website. However, you should not make a decision solely on the school's performance or OFSTED report.

Do I have to apply for a school place?

Yes. You must make an application for your child to start primary or infant school for the first time in the autumn term after your child's third birthday (even if your child already attends a nursery which is part of a school).

If your child attends an infant school, you must apply for him/her to move to a junior or primary school at the start of Year 2.

You must apply for a secondary school place when your child starts Year 6 in a junior or primary school. If you don’t make an on-time application, there is a risk that all available places in all your preferred school(s) will be taken and your child will be offered a place at an alternative school.

You must apply for in-year transfers if want your child to transfer from one school to another during the year. However, some schools process their own in-year applications – please see a list of these schools.

If I live in the catchment (designated) area for a school am I guaranteed a place

No. If you want the school in your catchment area, you will have a high priority for a place, but it is not guaranteed. If the designated area has more children living in it who wish to go to that school than places at the school, it may not be possible to offer a place.  If the school cannot offer places to all the children in its designated area it will use its admissions rules to allocate the places. Often this means that if you live very close to the school you have more chance of a place than if you live much further away. Therefore, it is really important to list three schools in your preferences boxes so you maximise your chances of getting a place at a school that you want.

Does putting only one preference mean I’m more likely to get it?

All schools are allocated on how your child meets the rules and the number of school places available.  If you do not get a place in your only preference we will offer you a place at a school that still has places. This may be a long way from your home. Therefore it is really important to put down three preferences so you maximise your chances of getting a school of your choice.

Can I apply for schools in other areas?

Yes. You can apply to any school in or outside of Oxfordshire. Schools cannot refuse to offer you a place because of where you live unless the school is oversubscribed and the admission authority has to apply the admissions rules to allocate places. Your application will only be refused if other meet the admissions criteria more than you. Please remember, when applying for a school place you must apply through your home local authority (where you are resident).

Are Catholic schools only for Catholic children?

Baptised Catholics do get priority for places in Catholic schools, but the remaining places are offered to any other children who apply in line with the school’s rules.

Do I have to pay to attend faith schools?

All maintained schools are free to all pupils. They are not allowed to make a charge for attending the school. If your child meets the admissions rules and is offered a place, there will not be any charge.

How does the council check if the information is correct?

The Admissions Team checks all forms carefully and looks out for any false information. The team makes extra checks if notified that about a fraudulent application. If someone is found to have provided false information to get a place at a certain school, then the offer of a place may be withdrawn and the place offered to another child.

How are the school year groups listed by age?

Age range School Teaching year Curriculum stage
4-5 Primary or nursery F1 (Reception) Year Foundation Stage
5-7 Primary or infant Years 1 and 2 Key Stage 1
7-11 Primary or junior Years 3, 4, 5, 6 Key Stage 2
11-14 Secondary Years 7, 8, 9 Key Stage 3
14-16 Secondary Years 10 and 11 Key Stage 4