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Councils face squeeze on primary school places

In some areas four and five-year-olds will not got the place they wanted at a primary school. Credit: Thomas Eisenhuth/DPA/PA Images

A Press Association survey of local councils suggests that in some areas around one in 10 youngsters have not been offered their first choice of primary school, while in others, the figure is around one in six.

More than 500,000 four and five-year-olds are finding out today where they will be attending primary school from this September.

Initial figures show that in Kirklees, 90.4% of youngsters have got their first place, along with 90% in Oldham.

In East Sussex, 84.68% got their first choice, while in Southampton the percentage was 85.4%.

And in Kent it was 85.81% - this was up from 84.9% of infants in the county who got their top preference last year.

The results below show the proportion of children in each area of England who have secured a place at their first preference of primary school for September:

  • East Sussex - 84.68%
  • Southampton - 85.4%
  • Kent - 85.81%
  • Solihull - 87%
  • Manchester - 87.3%
  • Brighton & Hove - 87.8%
  • Leicester - 88%
  • Sandwell - 88.45%
  • Leicestershire - 88.7%
  • Wigan - 88.7%
  • Sheffield - 89.69%
  • Oldham - 90%
  • Kirklees - 90.4%

Parents await news on primary school placements

500,000 four and five-year-olds will find out where they will be going to primary school. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Families across England will find out today whether their child has been placed at their preferred primary school as concerns grow over 'supersized' classes.

Councils will send out details of where more than half a million four and five-year-olds will be attending school from this September.

But while for many parents 'National Offer Day' will bring joy and relief, others are set to experience disappointment.

A continuing squeeze on places - particularly at primary level - fuelled in part by a rising birth rate in recent years, combined with the effect of immigration in some areas - means that some parts of England are still struggling to accommodate every child.

Patrick Leeson of Kent County Council said: "Our schools admissions team has been working hard, as usual, to ensure that as many pupils as possible get a school from among their preferred choices and we are pleased to see that the number of both first and second choices has increased.

"However, we will not lose sight of the fact that four per cent of pupils have not been given a school from their preferences.

"While many will secure places through waiting lists and reallocation, I am aware that this will be a difficult time and we will do what we can to offer a good outcome.

Last year, 87.7% of youngsters were were awarded a place at their first-choice school, according to national figures for England, indicating that about 76,600 children lost out on their top pick.

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NUT to hold strike ballot after the election over cuts

Schoolchildren could face disruption before the end of the year after teachers voted for a post-election ballot on national strikes over education funding cuts. Delegates at the National Union of Teachers annual conference in Harrogate backed a resolution effectively giving the next government a six-month deadline to come up with a fresh plan to protect school spending, or face industrial action, including walkouts.

NUT to hold strike ballot after the election over cuts Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

They warned that the looming funding cuts currently faced by schools and colleges will damage pupils' education, lead to job losses and hit teachers' pay, pensions and workload.

School children 'at risk from asbestos in classrooms'

Parents and teachers should be made aware of the dangers posed to children by asbestos still contained within some schools, a union has warned.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said while research suggests around 86 per cent of school buildings contain the substance - which can cause cancer - 44 per cent of teachers questioned did not know whether their school was one of them.

Figures suggest 86 per cent of school buildings contain asbestos Credit: PA

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said between 200 and 300 former schoolchildren die of mesothelioma each year, along with rising number of teachers.

The type of cancer develops slowly over a span of between 30 to 60 years, meaning the younger a person is when exposed to asbestos the higher the risk is to them.

As a union we are equally concerned for children as we are for teachers and support staff, but the dangers for children are more acute because they've got more life ahead of them.

The asbestos that's in our schools now is getting older and older, so it's deteriorating and if it's in a poor condition then it's in a more dangerous state.

– Sarah Lyons, NUT lead on asbestos
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