Thousands of pupils in England lose their first choice secondary school place | Admissions to schools

Thousands of 10 and 11-year-olds have failed to get into their first choice secondary school as offers have emerged across England, but the expected surge in demand for 7th grade places in some major cities has once again failed to materialize.

The percentage of children awarded first place was predicted to hit a national record low this year as a result of the baby boomers 11 years ago, but in London and Birmingham the number of applications and success rates were similar to last year. year.

Elsewhere in England, fewer children are getting into their first choice secondary school, according to a Press Association survey. Of the 33 councils surveyed, 18 reported a decrease in the percentage of students achieving priority.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “There is additional pressure on secondary school enrollment this year as the bulge in the student population that comes through primary schools is now hitting secondary schools. Many schools are particularly overcrowded, especially in certain regions of the country.

“Until the government creates a national strategy to guarantee enough school places for every child in England, the yearly anxious wait for families will continue.”

Competition for places in the capital remains high, but the number of applications for September 2023 has fallen slightly to 92,641, from 92,672 in 2022 and 93,727 in 2021. As last year, three in ten students missed out first choice, and almost nine out of ten (89%) were in the top three, while almost 5,500 children received no offer.

There are huge differences between districts. Lambeth had the lowest proportion of children receiving the best choice at 61.56%, with Redbridge not much better at 62.79%. Barking and Dagenham had the highest proportion of first preferences at 81.67%, followed by the City of London with 81.25%.

In recent years, applications in the capital have been affected by the impact of the Covid and Brexit pandemics, changing work patterns and parents moving out of London due to high rents and rising costs of living.

Ian Edwards, Executive Member of the London Councils for Children and Young People, said: “It is positive that once again the overwhelming majority of children are offered one of their preferred schools. Municipalities worked diligently with schools to ensure enough places were available to meet the high demand for school places across the capital.”

Competition remained intense in Liverpool with only 67.2% of children getting priority, a slight decrease from 67.5% in 2022. In Birmingham, applications fell from 15,214 in 2022 to 15,107, resulting in a slight an increase in the percentage of children of first choice, to 71.68% from 70.8% last year.

In Manchester, the number of applications increased slightly from 6,832 in 2022 to 6,859, resulting in a slight decrease in the proportion of children offered a first choice school place from 77% to 76%.

In Kent, a record number of children applied for a place at a secondary school, and while the number of first choice school places offered increased, the percentage fell from 79.59% to 78.21%. The council said 850 children did not get into any of their preferred schools. By contrast, in Wiltshire, 95.05% of families received their best choice and 93.6% in Wakefield.

The Department for Education said: “The vast majority of families will be offered a place at one of their preferred schools and most will be given the best place. Over the past decade, we have already created more than a million school places – the largest increase in school capacity in at least two generations.

“We have also announced almost £530m to secure primary and secondary school places needed for 2023 and £940m for places needed for 2024 and 2025.”

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