Thousands of children losing out on first-choice primary schools
In some areas of England, children are losing out on getting into their first choice of primary school, according to local authority figures.
Although this problem is getting better in some parts of the country, there are still very high numbers of children losing out. Last month, roughly 600,000 families found out whether their children had been awarded a place in reception class at their first choice school in September.
On this day - also known as national offer day - councils in Essex, Brighton and Hove, Kent, and Birmingham reported a higher proportion of parents gaining their first choice of primary school than the year previous.
Despite this, there was much disappointment in other regions with a high demand for school places and in extreme cases, parents failed to get their children into any of their preferred schools.
This is due to a population bulge in recent years, causing councils to be under pressure to provide thousands of extra primary school places. According to figures from local councils, this is starting to filter through to secondary schools also.
General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers Russell Hobby, believes there should be better long-term planning for school places, so that they can deal with increased demand. He said: “The government’s own figures show that an extra 750,000 school places will be needed in England by 2025, to meet a 10% rise in pupil population.
“There is a desperate need for long-term planning that spans all sectors. With the massive increase in pupil numbers and over-stretched budgets, we cannot afford inefficiency and conflict.”
In Birmingham, for example, 500 children (3.5 per cent of applicants) failed to receive an offer of a place at any of their preferred schools, while three per cent were offered places at schools outside Birmingham.