79,000 miss out on school of choice
A Government minister has hit out at a lack of good schools - after 79,000 children failed to get into their school of choice.
Schools minister Nick Gibb reacted angrily to news that around one in six youngsters would have to attend a school that was not their first choice from September.
"These figures expose the fact that there simply aren't enough good schools," he said. "Too many parents are forced to choose between schools which don't deliver the academic standards and good behaviour they demand."
The figures, from the Department of Education, are an improvement on the 88,000 who were unsuccessful last year.
But the Government admitted "far fewer" children applied this year for a similar number of secondary-school places - and 22,000 did not even get into one of their top three schools.
Thursday's statistics break down secondary-school offers made to more than 512,000 children by 151 local authorities in England on March 1. Nationally, 84.6% of children received an offer at their first-choice school - up 1.4% on last year.
Some 95.6% of youngsters were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools - a 0.7% increase on 2010.
But there was a significant drop in the number of pupils applying this year as numbers fell by 17,500 on 2010 while there were 1,200 fewer places available.
Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive at Barnardo's, said: "It is unacceptable that thousands of children and parents, largely already those most disadvantaged, have no choice but to accept they are at the back of the queue for good schools.
"In the forthcoming social mobility and child poverty strategies, Government needs to make clear how the school admission system is going to play its part in supporting poorer families and tackling the entrenched poverty and scourge of generational disadvantage evident in the UK today."