Researching schools and catchment area

If you are applying for a secondary school please visit our 'researching secondary schools and catchments page.

Do your research

You need to think realistically about how likely you are to be offered a place at a particular school before you apply for it. Try to get as much information as possible about how places at your preferred schools are allocated:

  • View the over-subscription criteria for each school – this is the order in which places will be allocated if the school has more applications than places available. Consider which criterion applies to your child.
  • Information on how places were allocated at each primary/junior school in previous years, and which schools were oversubscribed or have places remaining, can be found on our school admissions allocation page.
  • Consider which school is your nearest school/catchment school.
  • Check if a supplementary information form is required alongside the standard admissions application.
  • Check that your information about a school is correct. Make time to visit the school where possible, talk to school staff and make an informed decision for your child. Do not make your decision based on other people’s opinions or experiences. Your situation will be different and things change every year.
  • Think about travel and how you will get your child to school
  • Consider the order of your preferences, and how this may affect your eligibility for free school travel assistance.

School directory listings for primary admissions September 2022

View the schools directory within our First Steps (primary) booklet which can be found on our Primary Admissions page.

We allocate most of our school places within the first round of applications. Applying late, or changing your preferences after you have an offer, will significantly reduce your chances of getting your preferred school place.

Use all three preferences when applying

Use all three preferences – you will not benefit from using fewer. You will not be allocated a school until all other applications in the round have been offered up to the third preference. You also risk being allocated a school far from your home and being responsible for getting your child there.

What is a catchment school and why does it matter

Most of our schools base their over-subscription criteria on having a defined catchment area. You can use our interactive map to view the catchment areas for Cambridgeshire schools. A catchment is a defined geographical area surrounding a school from which it will usually take most of its pupils.

We recommend that you name your catchment school as one of your three preferences. This is the school most likely to offer your child a place. If you don't apply to your catchment school, you will be responsible for getting your child to and from school.

  • In a small number of cases an address may be in the catchment area for a school that falls under a neighbouring Local Authority. Check you are applying to the correct council. If you are a ‘Cambridgeshire resident’ you will make your application through the Cambridgeshire Admissions Team, even if you want to apply for a school outside of Cambridgeshire.

  • Some schools operate extended catchments for school admissions purposes beyond the areas recognised by the Local Authority for home to school travel assistance. Some church schools also admit children from a wider area than their defined catchment area on religious grounds. Please refer to the school’s directory listings for more information.

  • Living within the catchment area of a school does not guarantee your child a place at that school if the school is oversubscribed. The School Admissions Code ensures places are allocated in a fair and transparent way.

  • You will only be eligible for travel assistance to an alternative school, if you have applied for, and been refused a place at both the catchment school, and nearest school. Assistance will then only be offered to the next nearest school with a place available.

The primary schools who do not operate a catchment area for admissions September 2021) are:

  • St Alban’s RC Primary School
  • St Laurence’s RC Primary School
  • Chesterton Primary School*
  • Isle of Ely Primary School*
  • Kingsfield Primary School*
  • Burrowmoor Primary School*
  • Crosshall Infant Academy*
  • Cromwell Community College Primary School

* The marked schools still operate a catchment area for home to school travel assistance purposes.

A school admissions application can only be considered from your child’s home address. This is the address where your child will be living when they are allocated a place and where your child will be mainly living when they start their school place.

If your child lives at more than one address:

  • their main residence will be where they spend the majority of their school nights (Sunday to Thursday)
  • if they divide their time equally between two addresses further evidence will be required to identify the child's home address.

For school place allocations, distances are calculated by measuring a straight line. When assessing eligibility for home to school travel assistance, distances are measured by the shortest available walking route.

All measurements are calculated digitally, from the reference point of the home address (as determined by ‘OS AddressBase Premium’) to the reference point of the primary school or the nearest school gate of the secondary school. For families who live outside of Cambridgeshire, distances are determined using a combination of local maps and on-line resources.

Contact us

Please use our enquiry form and select school admissions from the options.