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Chances of securing preferred secondary school place ‘depend on council area’

In some areas virtually all 11-year-olds were getting their top preference for this autumn on National Offer Day.


(Danny Lawson/PA)

(Danny Lawson/PA)

(Danny Lawson/PA)

A survey has revealed wide geographical variations in the numbers of primary age children winning places at their preferred secondary school, as families across England learn if they have been granted their first choice.

A survey by the PA news agency showed a greater proportion of pupils are getting their first choice, but their chances vary depending on where they live.

In some areas virtually all 11-year-olds were getting their top preference for this autumn, on what is commonly known as National Offer Day.

The PA survey was sent to councils across the country excluding London.

Of the 23 authorities that provided an early response with comparable figures, 17 showed an increase in the proportion of pupils who got their first choice.

Five saw a drop and one showed no change.

In Bristol, 76% got their first preference this year, up from 71.6% in 2019.

Figures for Bath and North East Somerset show 90% got their top pick, up from 88%, while 86.4% in Redcar & Cleveland got their first choice, up from 85%.

In Hartlepool 91.7% of pupils got their top pick, which was down from 93%.

Figures from the Pan London Admissions Board show 94% of children who are due to start secondary school in the capital this September have been offered a place at their preferred option.

The data shows that 88% of London pupils were offered a place at one of their top three choices – a 2% increase from last year.

The number of applications for secondary school places in London this year was 93,359, a 2% decrease from 2019.

Martin Pratt, of the Pan London Admissions Board, said: “Today’s admissions figures show a 2% increase in the proportion of children getting a place at their first choice or one of their top three schools, which is good news.”

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “Last year more than nine in 10 pupils received a place at one of their top three preferences of secondary school, with the majority offered their top preference.

“Pupils are also significantly more likely to be receiving a place at a good school than they were 10 years ago – with 86% of schools rated good or outstanding now compared to 68% in 2010.

“Delivering good school places is a priority for this Government and we are on track to create one million between 2010 and 2020, the largest increase in at least two generations, and we use councils’ own population forecasts to make sure these places are provided where they are needed.”