Northampton secondary schools fair banding policy

​Some secondary schools in Northampton operate a policy of ‘fair banding’ of admission applications.

Banding is not a process of selection. It is a preliminary grouping of pupils before the oversubscription admission criteria are considered. It is intended to support the comprehensive principle, that is, to ensure that the range of ability of pupils admitted to the school matches the range of ability of those applying for a place (i.e. a proportionate spread of children of different abilities).

When any of these schools receives more requests for admission than can be placed within the admission number, the following process occurs:

All applicants are placed within five bands of cognitive ability. These bands are of equal size and are based on the Cognitive Ability Test taken in almost all Northampton Primary Schools. Note: Northampton School for Boys uses an alternative test. When a pupil has not taken a test, an estimate is provided by the headteacher of their primary school. If this is not possible (e.g. child has moved from abroad), pupils will be placed randomly in bands starting with the middle band.

The number to be admitted from each band is determined by dividing the school’s admission number by five. For example, if the admission number is 270, 54 pupils will be admitted from each band.

The oversubscription admission criteria for the school (as detailed on the school’s individual page) are applied to each band to determine which children will be offered places.


Banding only operates when the number of applications exceeds the number of places available.

Unless specifically stated, all pupils are placed in a band before the oversubscription criteria are applied. This includes pupils with special educational needs, pupils in public care and those selected on aptitude.

If places remain vacant in one (or more) bands after the allocation places, these will be filled by pupils in the adjacent bands (in oversubscription admission criteria order).

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