1. ITV Report

One in seven children miss out on top primary school choice

File photo of a teacher helping pupils in a lesson as the number of pupils in England's primary and nursery schools. Photo: PA Wire

Around one in seven children have missed out on their parents' first choice of primary school amid a continuing squeeze on places.

Hundreds of thousands of families across the country have been learning which school their child will be attending from this September, in the first ever primary National Offer Day

Early figures indicate that a child's chances of getting their top choice depend heavily on where they live, with almost all getting their first preference in some places, and more than a third missing out in others.

"The fact that, despite pressures on primary school places, we have maintained high numbers of parents being offered their first preference school highlights the council's work to create the necessary places.

– Ray Gooding, Essex County Council
  • In Kent, where more children applied this year, around 85% have got their first choice. This is down from about 86.5% last year;
  • In Medway, almost 86% of youngsters got their first preference
  • In East Riding, 94.6% of children got their first choice of place at the area's infant, junior and primary** **schools.
  • Nine in 10 children in Oldham got their top pick, along with 92.2% in Stoke, which the council said was the highest percentage for five years.
  • In Staffordshire, 92.1% of youngsters received their first preference, amid a rising birth rate in the area.
  • In Essex, 86.72% of children got their first-choice school this year, down from 87.11% last year, after the council received around 500 applications more than in 2013. The county council offered 93.55% of the youngsters their first or second preference, while 1.11% had to make do with their fourth choice.
  • In Reading, Berkshire, every child has been offered a place to start primary school in September, despite a slight fall in first-choice preferences.The council received 2,210 applications, up from 2,138 in 2013, with 75.7% getting their first choice, compared with 77.4% last year.
  • Rutland County Council saw a slight rise in the number of primary school applications, up from 356 last year to 365 now, but a marked leap in those getting their first choice - 97%, compared with 93% last year.
Children at a primary school. Credit: PA Archive
  • In Brighton & Hove more than 94% of children were offered one of their three preferred primary places. But first-choice preferences fell from 84.07% last year to 82.5% this year, though the actual number of children going to their preferred school rose from 2,763 to 2,933.
  • Dudley Council saw a sharp rise in the number of primary applications this year - 3,946, up from 3,762 in 2013. There was a two-percentage-point fall in children receiving their first choice school, from 90% to 88%. Those receiving one of their top three choices of primary place was unchanged, at 96%.
  • Dudley Council saw a sharp rise in the number of primary applications this year - 3,946, up from 3,762 in 2013. There was a two-percentage-point fall in children receiving their first choice school, from 90% to 88%. Those receiving one of their top three choices of primary place was unchanged, at 96%.
  • Bournemouth saw a slight rise in applications and in the numbers of children getting their first choice or one of their top three. There were 2,242 applications - against 2,225 last year - of which 82.52% received their first choice and 95.5% got one of their top three.

In the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea just 61.6% (595) got their top preference, down from 65% (623) last year.

The total number of applications rose by 130 from 2013.

Around one in four (24.8%) children missed out on their first choice in neighbouring Hammersmith and Fulham. The figure for 2013 was 28.7%.

Meanwhile the number of applicants fell from 2,032 to 1,928.

There were 103 more applicants in Wiltshire than last year, and the proportion who got their first preference dropped from 92% to 91%.

The percentage of those who only got their third choice or lower rose from 1% to 1.4%.

In the London borough of Lambeth more than 20% of children missed out on their preferred first choice school for September - 78.6% (2,509 pupils), compared with 81.73% (2,537 children) from last year. This was despite more places being available - 3,428, up from 3,404 last year.

But the council was able to offer the first or second choice to almost 90% of children. Maggie Harriott, education strategy manager for Lambeth Council, said: "This is excellent news for every one of the 3,193 children and their families who know where they'll be going to school in September.

"What's more, it means there are no families in Lambeth without an offer of a school place."

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