Thousands of children miss out on primary school places

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

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Thousands miss out on primary school place

File photo showing primary school pupils during a lesson. Credit: Barry Batchelor/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.

File photo of a primary school pupil at work in a classroom. Credit: PA

A survey conducted by the Press Association, based on responses from more than 50 councils, found that nationally, 86.99% of four-year-olds have won a place at their first preference school this year.

But this means that 13.01% - almost one in seven youngsters - have missed out.

Watch: Primary school places: How to appeal a decision

Appeal 'very difficult' if primary class exceeds 30 pupils

John Walker
John Walker urged worried parents to find out the size of the class their youngster would have been in, if they want to appeal. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

Parents who did not get their child into a local primary school should first find out if the class they were hoping to put their youngster in has exceeded 30 pupils, should they want to appeal, a legal expert told Daybreak.

John Walker, who specialises in appeals for school places, said the "first thing" the parents needed to work out if they had an "infant class size appeal".

"In 2000 the Government brought in regulations to say that one teacher can only teach a maximum of 30 children. If that happens, then the test to win the appeal is very, very difficult.

"You either have to show there was a mistake when the initial decision was made or that the decision is so unreasonable that no other school, no other local authority would have made that decision on the family's circumstances."

Mum: 'Nothing is for certain' with primary school places

A mother-of-two has said she has taken "nothing for certain" when trying to get her youngest son into primary school, after the family were initially left out in the cold when trying to find a school for their eldest child.

Sally Johnson, who lives with her family in south London told Daybreak they "had a really bad experience" when trying to get six-year-old Joshua into a nearby school last year.

"We didn't get any of our six schools that we had put down and were given a school further out that just wouldn't have suited our family life. So that was really stressful!"

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Competition for primary schools 'sign of the times'

Parents planning their child's primary school place before the have even conceived is "a sign of the times", a parenting expert has said.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said their survey into measures taken by parents to get their child into their ideal school showed how "tough" competition for places had become:

Competition for what parents perceive to be the best schools is now so tough they will do almost anything to gain their child a place.

Some ways like moving house to be close to the school can cost tens of thousands of pounds, while others such as applying for a nursery place at the school in a bid to boost their chances are bending the rules - but determined mums and dads will do what it takes.

It's a real sign of the times that people now begin thinking about which school to send their child to before they are even pregnant.

– Siobhan Freegard

'One fifth' tried to charm staff for school place

A little over a fifth (22%) of parents have tried to be friendly to education staff while visiting a prospective primary school in a bid to secure a place for their child, a survey has found.

A poll conducted by parenting website Netmums revealed:

  • More than a fifth (21.2%) had bought a house closer to their favoured school, while a further 17% had rented somewhere nearby.
  • Around one in six (16.2%) of mothers and fathers had started thinking about primary schools when their child was still under one.
  • A further 9.3% considering it when they were expecting.
  • Some 6.9% thinking about the issue before they fell pregnant.