Fewer offered first choice of primary school

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The percentage of pupils in England admitted to their first-choice secondary school has fallen for the first time in five years, according to new government figures.

About one in seven 11-year-olds did not get a place at their first choice school. The squeeze on places showed the first fall in five years in the proportion getting any of their top three preferences. 85.2% of pupils nationally received an offer at their first choice of secondary school, and 95.5% got 1 of their top 3 preferred schools.

The North East region has the highest number of first choice offers, 92.4% of secondary places and 91.5% of primary.

Overall there were over 521,000 applications for secondary places.

Official statistics by the Department for Education show that 546,000 (88%) families in England received a place at their first choice of primary school this year, while at secondary level over 444,000 (85%) were offered a place at their first choice school.

87.7% of pupils nationally gained an offer at their first choice of primary school, and 95.7% got 1 of their top 3 preferred schools - this is the first time statistics for primary schools have been compiled nationally and so there are no comparable figures for previous years.

Overall there were 623,526 applications for primary school places this year.

However, the data also shows that almost 77,000 schoolchildren in England – 12.3 per cent – failed to secure places at their first choice primary school for September, and that more than 22,400 pupils missed out on any school named by parents on their application form. This can range from three to six schools depending on their council area.

In addition, almost 4,000 infants have been left without a primary school for September due to a rise in the birth rate combined with an influx of migrants. This has resulted in large numbers of five-year-olds being forced to accept unwanted schools or missing out altogether.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Ensuring enough school places for the growing population is one of our top priorities. That is why we have more than doubled to £5 billion the funding available to councils to create new school places, and are allowing good schools to expand without the restrictions and bureaucracy they faced in the past.

“This has already led to the creation of 260,000 new school places across the country. Thanks to our reforms, the number of children in failing secondary schools has already fallen by a quarter of a million since 2010.”

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