The catchment area of a school is the geographical area defined by the admission authority for the school within which applicants are ranked as a higher priority in the admission policy than those who live outside it.

A school will tend to draw most of its pupils from this area and it broadly reflects the locality with which a school has its closest relationships. Not all schools have catchment areas - this means that some addresses in the city are not in the catchment area for any school.

However, the designated catchment area does not limit your preference as parents – there is nothing to prevent you applying to a school even if you do not live in its catchment area, and most schools in the city take children from outside their catchment area each year.

Parents are reminded that living within a catchment area does not guarantee a place within any given school. Catchment areas can also be changed over time.

Any decision by parents about the purchase or rental of a home based on school catchment areas is taken entirely at their own risk.

Please note that some schools that are their own admissions authority (Academies, Trust and Voluntary Aided schools) no longer have catchment areas, and home addresses in some area may not be in the catchment area for any school.

The definitive map

The definitive map of school catchment areas for community and voluntary controlled schools is held at Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, Southampton SO14 7LY. This is a digital map, not a paper map, and so is not available for inspection by the public.

In the event of any dispute about catchment area boundaries the definitive map is the sole authoritative source.

A schedule of addresses is also kept, to be read in conjunction with the map. Because new addresses are created frequently as a result of new development, the schedule may not always be fully up to date. In such cases the catchment area will be determined by reference to the definitive map.

In order to aid parents in their decisions about school places, parents can search for schools near their home address.