Families to learn secondary school places decision

More children could lose out on their top choice of secondary school this year as pupil numbers continue to grow, it has been suggested

Up to 115,000 youngsters across England are expected to not be offered their first choice when places are announced on Friday, the Good Schools Guide warns.

Based on analysis of birth rates and the number of children leaving primary school, it estimates that 606,000 applied for places this year – an increase of 23,000 on 2018.

Last year the proportion of children missing out on a place at their top choice of secondary school rose for the fifth year in a row.

Only 82.1% of 11-year-olds in England received an offer from their desired school – meaning 17.9% missed out, compared with 16.5% the previous year.

The Department for Education said more than 825,000 school places had been created since 2010.

Bernadette John, director at The Good Schools Guide, said: “In recent years, some local authorities have struggled to find enough places at primary school level and now we have begun to see the impact on secondary schools.

“And, for the next few years, it will get worse.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the Press Association: “There is intense pressure on secondary school places in some areas of the country for schools rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ and this results in parents missing out on their preferred choice.

“This situation will become more challenging because the number of pupils in secondary schools is rising and is expected to increase by 428,000 over the next seven years.

“It is vital that additional places are carefully planned at a regional level to match demographic need, and that everything possible is done to ensure every child can access a place in a good school, not least by improving the totally inadequate level of funding currently provided to schools by the government.”

New analysis from Teach First suggests children from the poorest backgrounds are more likely to be heading to a school rated by Ofsted as less than good, than in 2016.

The education charity found that 35% of children from the poorest postcodes currently attend a school rated as inadequate or requires improvement – an increase from 28% in 2016.

This amounts to an additional 30,000 children from poorer backgrounds.

Nick Gibb comments
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb (John Stillwell/PA)

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “Today is a significant milestone for thousands of parents and children finding out which secondary school they will be attending from September.

“This Government is determined to create more choice for parents when it comes to their children’s education and we have created 825,000 school places since 2010, and are on track to see that number rise to a million by 2020.

“Standards have also risen, with 86% of schools now good or outstanding, compared to 68% in 2010, and last year more than nine out of 10 pupils got a place at one of their top three choices, setting them on the path for a successful future.”

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