Fewer children offered their first choice of secondary school

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A new study has found that fewer children are getting their first choice of school, with most new places for pupils being created in institutions that are getting worse, reports the Independent.

The report by the New Schools Network found that around one in seven families (76,000 children) failed to get a place for their children at their first choice of school last year. A quarter (19,000) did not receive an offer for any of their preferred schools.

With the number of this year’s 11-year-olds almost 20,000 higher than last year’s, the report warns that getting a place will get harder.

Families in big cities were particularly likely to miss out. In London and Birmingham, more than one in four miss out on their first choice, while in the North-east and South-west more than 90 per cent get their first choice. In London almost one in 20 families (4.8 per cent) failed to get any of their preferences compared to 1.8 per cent in the North-east.

In the past four years, 42,000 – half – of the 79,000 places created in expanding schools were in schools where GCSE results have worsened, it claims.

Between 2011 and 2014, schools that have seen the proportion of their students receiving five A*-C GCSEs decline (including English and Maths) have added 42,746 new pupils. And almost 14,000 of places were added over the past four years in schools rated failing by Ofsted.

Big cities such as Birmingham and Bristol saw the largest increases in places being created in these badly rated schools. London saw the largest number of new places in schools that perform poorly.

Nick Timothy, director of the New Schools Network, said: “Picking the right secondary school is difficult enough, but for those in big cities, the chances of getting their first choice school are falling fast. For too many their only choice is a school that isn’t good enough."

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