‘Fewer pupils secure first-choice secondary school’

June 27th, 2014 Category: Secondary Education

Fewer children in England managed to secure their first choice of secondary this year, meaning thousands of pupils have missed out, according to official figures.

Statistics from the Department for Education (DfE) reveal that one in seven 11-year-olds were not offered a place from their preferred school, down 1.5 per cent compared to last year.

The worst affected areas were in London and the West Midlands, with 29.8 per cent and 18.1 per cent of children respectively not securing a place at their first choice. In central London, the borough with the lowest results was Westminster, where just 58.4 per cent of children got into their top school, compared to 68.7 per cent in Birmingham.

When looking at England as a whole, 95.5 per cent of pupils were offered a place from a school from their top three picks, down from the 2012 result of 96.5 per cent. According to the DoE, 96.8 per cent of children secured a place from one school on their list of preferences, again down from last year’s 97.8 per cent.

A spokesperson for the DfE 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.”

This year the number of applicants for a secondary school place in England increased by 4.3 per cent to 521,274 compared to last year – the first increase since the DfE began collecting and recording data back in 2008.
Disappointment hasn’t been restricted to pupils seeking a secondary school place this year, as younger children also found they had not secured a place in their preferred primary school.

According to the official statistics, one in eight – almost 76,000 – missed out on their top pick. Out of the 623,000 applicants, 87.7 per cent secured a place at their first choice, 95.7 per cent managed to get into a school in their top three and 96.4 per cent had an offer from their list of preferred schools.

Again, London fared worst in this area as well, with nearly one in five missing out on a place from their first choice of primary school.

There are no previous results to compare these figures to, as this is the first year the DfE has collected data for primary school placements, so it is not known if there has been much change since last year. However, the DfE states that the increased birth rates and growing pressure on primary school places has been well-documented in recent years.