The new school year has just started – but some parents are being urged to look 12 months into the future and make decisions which will have a big effect on the education of their children.

The application process for places at Herts secondary schools opened on Tuesday, and runs until the end of October.

Secondary schools across Stevenage and North Herts will be hosting open evenings in the coming weeks so that parents can take a good look round before picking their priorities.

The easiest way to apply for a school place for September 2016 is to visit and complete the online application form.

The system is designed to be quick, easy and secure and forms can be amended at any time up to the closing date.

Last year, 99 per cent of parents applied online and 95 per cent of children in Hertfordshire were allocated one of their four ranked primary or secondary schools.

Councillor David Williams, Herts County Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “We have a good track record of getting children a place at one of the preferred schools.

“We want all children to have access to a good education with the right number of school places in the right location.

“This is a significant challenge given there are 10,000 more children under the age of four in Herts today than a decade ago.

“We are committed to ensuring we build the appropriate infrastructure and since 2012 we have spent £170m to provide more than 3,000 additional reception places.

“I would urge parents to carefully consider the preferences they make and to visit local schools before applying.”

Leaflets explaining the secondary and upper process are being distributed to families through their child’s school. The application process for primary schools will open in November.