Yorkshire has highest level of
primary school places appeals

MORE parents of children who were refused places at their preferred primary schools lodged appeals in Yorkshire than anywhere else in the country last year.

New data published by the Department for Education (DfE) reveals 7,375 appeals were lodged against state primary school admissions in the region in the 2010/11 academic year.

It was the highest number in England and accounted for 9 per cent of all placings – proportionally also the highest.

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The number of parents unhappy with their children’s state secondary school, 5,290, was also proportionally higher in Yorkshire and the Humber than anywhere else in the country – with 8.5 per cent of placings appealed.

Only a fifth of the 12,665 appeals lodged against primary and secondary school admissions in the region were successful.

Bradford had the highest number of primary school appeals of any education authority in the country.

Families there lodged 2,572 appeals – disputing nearly one in three placings. Bradford also had the region’s highest number of secondary school appeals at 1,421.

Leeds had the region’s second-highest figures for both, with 1,204 appeals lodged against primary school placings and 1,279 secondary school admissions challenged.

York had the region’s lowest number of primary school appeals, with only 66 lodged there. It was among the lowest in England, as was its number of secondary school appeals – just nine.

Families in North Lincolnshire lodged the fewest secondary school appeals in the region, with just six placings contested.

Across England, the number of appeals against state primary admissions has rocketed by 11.5 per cent as parents attempt to secure places at the schools they favour for their children.

A total of 46,905 appeals were lodged against primary school placings, including infant classes, up from 42,070 the year before.

This has almost doubled from five years ago, in 2006/07, when there were 26,435 appeals for primary places.

It has been suggested that intense pressure on primary school places, due to a rising birth rate and immigration, is fuelling the hike in appeals.

The figures show a drop in the number of appeals over state secondary school places nationally. There were 36,565 appeals in 2010/11 compared with 43,095 in the previous year.

Academies were not included in the appeals statistics, which could partly account for the decrease in secondary school appeals.

Rising numbers of secondary schools are switching to academy status, which gives them more freedom over areas such as budgets and the curriculum.

Matt Richards, who runs a school appeals advice website, put the number of primary school admissions being challenged down to a lack of places.

He added that immigration of families, particularly from European countries, could also be putting a strain on schools.

“The influx of people from the European Union is no bad thing, but that is something that has taken services like health and education a little by surprise,” he said.

Mr Richards said there may be “more dissatisfaction with primaries” than the figures show, as parents are put off from appealing by local councils that say they have no hope of success on appeal.

All parents have the right to appeal if any school they applied to refuses their child a place.

The system allows parents to argue that schools broke official admissions rules or that there are “compelling” extra reasons why their child deserves a place.

A DfE spokesman said: “Every parent should have the choice of a good local school for their child - our reforms will help create thousands of high-class new school places.”

The Government has introduced a number of reforms to improve standards, including turning weak schools into academies, allowing top schools to expand and opening free schools, he said.

The spokesman added: “We are more than doubling targeted investment at areas facing the greatest pressure on numbers – over £4bn up to 2015 to create thousands of new school places.”