Applying for a secondary school place in Dorset

At the beginning of autumn term, Year 6 pupils and their parents will be looking ahead to the next step up towards secondary school. Although catchment rules apply to many schools in the county, there are different options open to each child.

Catchment Areas

Designated areas, or catchment areas, have been pre-determined by Dorset County Council, Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole Council.

To find the designated school for your area visit:


Bournemouth: – Applying for a School Place – School Catchment

Poole: – search for school catchment areas

Although most pupils end up applying to the school in their catchment area, there are some schools that do not operate designated areas and have a slightly different admissions policy. So, it is worth checking the admissions policy on each school’s website for further information. Similarly, if you are considering applying to a local independent school, it will have its own separate admissions procedure.


Applying to a school out of catchment area

When you fill in the application form you’ll be asked to list the schools you’re applying for in order of preference.

You must apply for at least 3 schools.

This is when you will be able to prioritise your child’s preferred school. Whether a place is offered will depend on the school’s admission process and if places are available.

Priority is always given to pupils who live within the catchment area of a school. If you have any questions contact the school directly or your local council.


Getting ready for Secondary School

Many primary schools are increasingly mindful about the transitional phase to high school, with teachers taking time to ensure that children know what to expect and are well-prepared for the move, with school visits, meet the teacher sessions and ‘step up’ days. You can also help in several ways:

Keep a note of all the dates for induction events and encourage your child to attend as many of these as possible.

Read the school’s most recent Ofsted reports -

Check the school league tables at

Talk to other parents about what they think of the school.

Increase your child’s independence - you might trust them with solo trips to the letter box, or allow them to collect the take-away food from a local restaurant and show that you have confidence in them.

Stay positive about the school. Children need to be encouraged and know they have your support.


On this page you will find a guide to many of the schools across the county. Scroll down to read a general overview of each school and find out when the Open Days will be taking place.


The Application Process

Submit your application for a primary or secondary school place online. Once the online form has been submitted, an email receipt will confirm that the application has been received. Online applications can be changed right up to midnight on the closing date.


Dorset County Council Applications:

Primary School Applications:

The online system will be available from September 2017 to 15 January 2018.

Secondary School Applications:

The online system will be available from September 2017 to 31 October 2017.

Dorset Contacts:

Education helpline: 01305 221060

Online applications:



Bournemouth Borough Council Applications:

Primary, Infant and Junior School Applications:

The online system will be available from 1 September 2017 to 15 January 2018.

Secondary School Applications:

The online system will be available from 1 September 2017 to 31 October 2017.

Bournemouth Contacts:

Education helpline: 01202 456223

Online applications: - click on the Children and Education link



Borough of Poole Council Applications:

Reception School Applications:

The online system will be available from September 2017 to 15 January 2018.

Junior School Applications:

The online system will be available from September 2017 to 15 January 2018.

Secondary School Applications:

The online system will be available from September 2017 to 31 October 2017.

Poole Contacts:

Education helpline: 01202 261936

Online applications:



When can I expect a decision?

There are now set dates when school places are officially confirmed. These are:

1 March 2018 – Secondary Schools

18 April 2018 – Primary Schools

The results will be available for you to see online.


Avonbourne College

Avonbourne is an 11-19 college with a well-earned reputation for a secure, caring but well-disciplined environment. Avonbourne College is dedicated to developing independent global citizens of tomorrow who are compassionate, aspirational and courageous in outlook and approach, ready for the challenges of a modern, interconnected world.

Avonbourne College continues to go from strength to strength with its new mixed Primary School, Avonwood. The students demonstrate that the values taught at home and school ensure happy, confident and bright young people, capable of making a difference to the world in which they live. For more details go to



Bishop Aldehelm’s CE Primary School

'The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is outstanding at meeting the needs of all learners.' (SIAMS 2016).

Bishop Aldhelm’s CE Primary School is a large primary academy for 630 pupils. It prides itself on a well-earned reputation locally and its high standards. Pupils’ behaviour and attitudes to learning are typically exemplary. The school’s core values of courage, unity, inspiration and love are known by all members of the school community making this school unique.

Bishop Aldhelm’s is a good school, ambitious for its future. With a strong emphasis on music and sport, pupils enjoy a wealth of extra-curricular activities including instrument tuition and sailing. The Global Youth Ambassadors lead the school in celebrating diversity with opportunities including learning Mandarin.

A fantastic school environment promotes outdoor learning projects; the school boasts a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The school provides daily wrap around care as well as a holiday club to support working families.

There are still limited spaces available in certain year groups. Visits to the school are warmly welcomed. To find out more go to


Bournemouth Collegiate School

Bournemouth Collegiate School is one school on two sites.

The Senior School is located on the clifftop in Southbourne on a beautiful 5-acre site. The main building dates back to 1840 and the site also has an Astro turf, indoor pool and a woodland area.

At the Prep School, based in Lower Parkstone, children can start at age 2 at the newly introduced Nursery, taking pupils through to Year 6, the majority heading onto either the Senior School or one of the local Grammars. Again, BCS is blessed with a beautiful site in an urban setting; not many Prep Schools have an indoor pool, with regular swimming for all, and a Forest school on site.

Academic results have increased significantly over the last few years; record-breaking results, again, at A level this year mean that the majority of students gained places at their first-choice university and at GCSE an impressive 14% increase in A*-C from last year to this. The value- added scores at A level put BCS impressively in the top 2.5% in the country. It is particularly strong in the Visual Arts, Business, Economics, Science and Mathematics.

Music, Sport and Drama are flourishing, and play a key part in helping young people to reach their potential.

Scholarships in academic, sport, Art and the Arts are on offer for pupils joining the Senior School. Means-tested bursaries, called the BCS Awards, are also offered, potentially up to 100% of fees outstanding academic performance.

To find out more contact the Registrar

Visit or call 01202 436550


Canford School

As a result of a generous donation, Canford School in Wimborne is delighted to be able to offer a fully funded day place each year for a gifted child who otherwise would not be able to attend. The first Dr.Donald Dean Memorial Scholar started in Year 9 in September 2015, while one pupil in the Sixth Form is also being fully funded by a generous anonymous donor.

Together with scholarships for individual talent that can sometimes be worth up to 50% of the fees, and means-tested financial assistance worth up to 100% of the fees, there are various options for entry to the school at both 13+ and in the Sixth Form. Applications are welcomed for children with a talent in a particular area and from good all-rounders who will contribute strongly to the life of the school. The school is currently able to provide financial assistance for around 40 pupils per year and plans to increase this number as funds allow.

Why not visit the school, and meet the pupils and staff at the next Open Day on the morning of Saturday 7 October 2017.

For details visit or for more information email:


Corfe Hills School

Corfe Hills is a vibrant school which offers its students a huge range of opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. The school is ambitious for the achievement of all of its students in a safe, ordered environment. It aims to provide them with a memorable, engaging and challenging education as they take their next steps towards independent adult life.

The school is inclusive and will stretch and challenge its most talented students whilst providing high quality support for those with specific needs. It has an excellent Careers Education and Guidance programme enabling students to make informed choices at every stage and resulting in excellent progression from the school on completion of their studies.

As well as an excellent academic track record throughout Years 9 to 11 and the Sixth Form (which offers 30 different courses), the school is rightly proud of its outstanding reputation for the Arts. In addition to producing a full-scale musical in Poole’s Lighthouse Theatre each year, the school enjoys ‘Premier League’ status in the annual Rock Challenge competition. It has a full range of sports teams which take part in local and national fixtures and also international tours. It offers an extensive programme of trips and visits in direct support of the curriculum and also for wider enrichment.

“Corfe Hills School believes that learning is exciting and at the heart of what we do.

We inspire and grow unique, compassionate individuals who contribute positively to society.”

To discover more, visit


Dumpton School

Dumpton is a happy school with purposeful pupils and committed, approachable staff. This is a powerful combination which lies at the heart of the ‘special atmosphere’ often referred to by first-time visitors. The beautiful location and excellent facilities play their part, but it is the quality of relationships throughout the school that creates such an enriching and fulfilling environment for the children, staff and parents alike.

Choosing the right school for your child is a major decision, so do take the time to visit the school and experience for yourself the friendly family atmosphere and all that is on offer at Dumpton. The Nursery and Reception Open Morning takes place on Friday 6 October at 10am.

Call 01202 883818 or register online at Staff are also delighted to arrange individual visits throughout the year.


Glenmoor & Winton Academies

“The school is delightful. In this visit, I have been inspired by what the students are doing. Hugely enjoyable and I would love to return” Lord Eden – May 2017

Glenmoor and Winton Academies opened in September 2013 supported by a Multi Academy sponsor entitled United Learning. The two Academies are co-located on the same site but offer single sex teaching in all classes. This provides the best of both to students and parents with lessons kept single sex and all the clear advantages that provides with break, lunchtime and extra-curricular activities mixed. The recent Ofsted inspection of both Academies saw inspectors commend the rapid and continued improvements in teaching, learning and behaviour since the academies opened in September 2013, with some aspects already said to be outstanding.

One of the areas singled out for praise was the exceptional good behaviour of students, who were said to show “great pride in themselves, their work and their academy.

Glenmoor and Winton are national leaders in the development of on-site sports Academies with Rugby, Football, Cycling, Netball and Tennis all offered with links to local and professional clubs. The Academies has been named regional choir of the year for the last 4 years running and with the appointment of a full-time choirmaster, this area of Academy life continues to flourish.

There are still limited spaces available in certain year groups. Any prospective parent can contact the Academies for a meeting with the Principal and subsequent tour. Email or call 01202 527818


Harewood College

Harewood College is an 11-19 college where the pursuit of excellence is paramount. The unique community atmosphere is embodied with the Olympic and Paralympic Values of respect, excellence, friendship, courage, determination, inspiration and equality.

The College is dedicated to developing young men with active and creative minds, who retain a sense of compassion and respect for others whilst having the confidence and ambition to succeed as moral citizens and global workers. In the 2015 Ofsted report the college received praise for teaching, behaviour and leadership. “All groups of students achieve well” is the conclusion they reached, stating that “Teachers plan work that stretches students.” To find out more go to



Highcliffe School

Highcliffe School told Primary Times:

We value the power of education to change lives. We believe young people learning mutual respect, being purposeful and responsible, and showing generosity towards others to be as important in their life as learning inquisitiveness, determination, and initiative.

Students are happy, high-achieving and proud to be members of the community, enjoying learning in a highly stimulating environment. A priority is developing the young people as individuals, confident in their talents and interests”.

See for further information.


Magna Academy, Poole

“The most successful students are clear about who they are and what they believe in; they are not afraid to show it and are confident they will make a difference in this world. That is called ‘purpose’. We want to graduate bright young people who have the confidence to take action, are responsible leaders and are genuine heroes to those whose lives they touch.” (Dr Russ Quaglia)

Magna Academy Poole is passionate about excellence in education, giving students the very best start in life with a firm belief that excellent teaching transforms lives. Its core belief is that for all students to have high aspirations they must believe in themselves, be actively engaged in their learning and see the connection between what they learn today and who they want to become tomorrow.

If you would like to know more about the opportunities that Magna Academy offers for your child, see the online Prospectus at:

Alternatively, you can call 01202 604222 or email

Staff will be delighted to arrange for an ‘Academy In Action’ tour with you and your child to give you a first-hand experience of Magna.


Portfield School

Autism Wessex is opening a specialist Centre for Reception and Key Stage 1 aged children within the grounds of Portfield School.

Alison Casey, Joint Head of Portfield School comments; “Children learn and develop well in enabling environments in which their experiences respond to their individual needs. In the same way we tailor the curriculum for the rest of the learning styles across the school. The Early Years curriculum is based almost entirely around play and child-led play in particular, which requires a lot of space and resources.”

To find out more visit



Shaftesbury School

Shaftesbury School is a great local school offering a truly personalised education for students from around the world. Staff have ‘an unwavering commitment’ (Ofsted 2017) to ensuring students are challenged academically in a safe and stimulating environment. Its recent Ofsted highlighted it as an officially ‘Good’ school with many areas of excellence demonstrated throughout the inspection. The inspection team felt that students were ‘sufficiently challenged’ and that there is ‘a strong leadership team’ with parents who ‘would recommend the school to other parents’.

The examination results for year 11 and 13 students have risen steadily for three years with students of all abilities making good progress as well as top university and employment destinations. Added to this is the international boarding element which brings a diverse and unique cultural aspect to the community. All of this combined provides for a school in which academic progress is secure, the individual is nurtured and potential is achieved.

The school will be offering several open mornings for parents and their children to experience what it has to offer as well as the chance to meet with the new Principal.

Visit or call 01747 854498


St Peter’s Catholic School

St Peter’s Catholic School provides a free comprehensive Christian education for girls and boys from Bournemouth, Poole, Dorset and Hampshire.

Its Secondary school site includes an established Sixth Form while its growing primary phase will see St Peter’s become an all-through school by 2020. The quality of education is superb, with progress measures consistently amongst the best in the area – for all abilities.

A rounded curriculum is provided encompassing traditional academic subjects and those that develop the students’ artistic, technical and sporting skills to the full. It benefits from excellent performing arts and sporting facilities and the Southbourne site is situated near the sea with stunning views across the Solent.

St Peter’s key principles are summed up in three Ps:

Speaking in 2016, Bradley Simmons, Regional Ofsted Director said to parents, “You must be very proud of St Peter’s, more able children do better here than at any other school in Bournemouth.”

For details visit


Sturminster Newton High School

Sturminster Newton High sets high standards for academic and personal achievement within the ethos of a smaller school setting.

"Expectations for students’ achievement are high and teachers are expected to stretch and challenge all students to achieve their best” Ofsted 2015

The school believes that happy students become successful learners, developing the skills to succeed in life and that happy students learn to become independent and thoughtful adults.

“The school is an exceptionally harmonious place in which to work and learn.” Ofsted 2015

Young people leaving this school will be confident individuals with the necessary ‘life’ skills for further success at university, college or in employment. The School emphasise the development of good organisational, communication, ICT and problem-solving skills, thus developing young people who can use their initiative and relate well to others.

“Students are very well supported to make informed choices for their futures...students are very positive about the advice and guidance they receive.” Ofsted 2015

If you are unable to attend the Community Open Day but would like to visit the school during a working day contact the school, The students and staff will be delighted to show you around and answer any of your questions.


Talbot Heath School

Talbot Heath was founded by Mary Broad over 130 years ago with the aim of being liberal, progressive and pioneering; those aims continue in the school’s new vision for the future which will ensure that Talbot Heath stays true to its aims with a future-focussed and pupil-centred approach.

From September 2017, the school is introducing a whole school interdisciplinary approach to learning, offered to pupils from the age of 3 to 18, that will focus on creativity and digital proficiency. It will have a strong emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics), and staff will work in partnership with experts from Bournemouth University and the Arts University Bournemouth, as well as leading global institutions, to offer exciting curriculum programmes such as architecture, design thinking, computer animation and strategic thinking.

An exciting new, large scale centre will be built for the Creative and Performing Arts which will also house the school’s new technology centres for interdisciplinary learning. The three-storey building will include a flexible 600-seater auditorium, gallery and exhibition space, a virtual reality teaching space, drama studios, art, textiles, graphic design, robotics, computing and design studios, as well as extensive break out spaces where pupils can socialise and work independently. In addition, the pool will be covered, so that pupils have access to an indoor pool all year round.

Find out more at the Open Day, Friday 6 October, 2-4pm for Kindergarten to Junior, and from 4-7.30pm for Senior.

Book your place on the tour call 01202 763360 for Junior School and 01202 761881 for Senior.


The Bishop of Winchester Academy

Pupils at TBOWA thrive in a culture that is driven by the mantra ‘High Expectation- No Excuses.’ ‘Teaching and Learning’, Leadership and management’ and ‘Governance’ are all graded as ‘Outstanding’ (Ofsted/SIAMS).

All pupils are challenged in the highly supportive setting as they begin their journey to University or the world of work. All pupils are coached intensively as they seek to establish their own identity in a rapidly changing and challenging world.

The ‘Grammar Stream’ pupils will benefit from a bespoke package of interventions that will enable them to reach their aspirational goals.

Pupils are instilled with a sense self-worth, pride in achievement and to have the courage of their own well-founded convictions to make wise decisions that will allow them to celebrate their talents, fulfil their God-given potential and ‘Live Life to the Full’.

Pupils are privileged to be taught in extensive new buildings that provide a 21st century Learning Experience.

Pupils and their families all benefit from a unique Christian ethos.

The best way to understand TBOWA is to see it at work. The Open Evening is on Tuesday 3 October, 5.00-7.30pm.

The Principal will provide personal tours of the Academy during school hours for those who wish to see how the school works on a day-to-day basis.



The Bourne Academy

The Bourne Academy values mutual respect, courtesy, resilience, hard work and particularly values high standards of personal presentation and behaviour.

In 2016, new government reporting Progress 8 and Attainment 8 Performance Measures came into being. A score of 0 for Progress means pupils made expected progress, compared to students of similar ability across the country. The Bourne Academy currently has a score of +0.02, which means students have made at least quarter of a grade more progress compared to students nationally.

This year the Academy has seen some wonderful successes; students competing in the JP Morgan Challenge Final at the Olympic Park London, winning their category ‘Find Sustainable Solutions to Real World Problems’. Two teams entering the Lords Taverners Boccia Competitions, finishing second in Dorset and for the second year running, another Academy teacher, Mr Scagel, was nominated in the Echo School Awards in the ‘Creative Teacher of the Year’ category.

Inspiring guest speakers have also visited the Academy. The Royal Signals paid a visit to History lessons and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra gave a performance and workshop. The RAF delivered a presentation from the ‘Fun with Flight’ Roadshow and the Beagle2Mars professor Mark Sims gave a lecture and Q&A session in ‘What can Science Offer You’.

Pastoral care is underpinned by eight Heads of House who are available daily to support parents and students. The Academy‘s latest inspection report was rated GOOD with outstanding features and noted; “The quality of teaching is consistently good with some outstanding”.



The Grange School

The Grange School has been recognised as Outstanding BTEC Centre of the Year 2017 at the BTEC Awards. The Grange School is delighted at this very public recognition of the quality of the career focused provision and the superb team responsible for its delivery. The winners of the BTEC awards were unveiled at the ceremony by the BBC television presenter and journalist, Steph McGovern.

Aspiration and ambition go hand in hand with a commitment to service, and The Grange students understand that they are only as strong as the community of which they form a vital part. The quality of relationships at the school is outstanding; all of the wonderful staff – teaching and support – strive to bring out the best in students, and the children respond in ways which are a constant source of delight and pride.

The ethos of an organisation is not measurable, but it is tangible, and a visit to The Grange will enable you to experience for yourselves why this school is a very special place indeed.



Wimborne First School

Mrs Hartley, Head Teacher at Wimborne First School told Primary Times:

“At Wimborne First School we have high expectations and standards so children can reach their full potential. As Head Teacher I am proud to walk through the corridors to the sounds of children talking about their learning, group discussions, debates, questioning each other and laughter. There is an awe and wonder in the atmosphere and a real buzz about their learning. Children at our school are happy, enthusiastic learners who engage fully in our creative curriculum.

Our open-ended questions mean the “children have a chance to discover, explore and challenge their thinking skills.

We are a thriving and happy school with a lot to offer. Highly trained teachers who are dedicated to every child’s development, an excellent maths and phonics programme, high quality resources, fun, laughter and a real sense of belonging. Together we are a school community where everyone involved is part of the jigsaw”.

If you would like to see more, visit the school during the open evening or contact the school office on 01202 882532.




Keep up to date

Receive the latest news, events, offers, competitions and so much more!

Message here

Advertise with us

Over 18 million copies of Primary Times magazines are distributed every year through primary schools in 59 regions across the UK and Ireland.