Number of pupils missing out on No1 school falls

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THE proportion of pupils missing out on their first choice of secondary school has fallen both nationally and in Yorkshire this year.

Around 74,000 English children missed out on a place at their first-choice secondary school, including 5,200 from Yorkshire.

Fewer than one child in ten in the region will be starting in a secondary school this September which was not their first choice.

Official figures from the Department for Education (DfE), published yesterday, show that 8.8 per cent of Yorkshire pupils, were not allocated their top preference.

This was slightly lower than the 9.1 per cent which missed out last year and well below the national average this year of 14.7 per cent.

In total 98.3 per cent of the 61,200 pupils who applied to a secondary school in Yorkshire have been given a place at one of their three preferred choices.

This figure remained the same as last year, with a slight increase in those getting their first choice and a slight fall in those getting into their second or third option.

The results show how parents and pupils fared in what has become known as National Offer Day at the beginning of this month when councils announce where children in their final year of primary schools are being placed.

More than 503,000 youngsters in England received a secondary school offer on March 1.

Nationally around one pupil in six in England missed out on the first choice.

The DfE figures show 4.1 per cent did not receive an offer from one of their top three preferred schools.

Overall 85.3 per cent won a place at their first choice, up 0.7 per cent on 2011, while 95.9 per cent received an offer at one of their top three choices, up 0.3 per cent on last year.

Earlier this month the Yorkshire Post revealed that parents and pupils in most of West Yorkshire were more likely to miss out on their first choice school than in other parts of the region.

Yesterday’s figures confirm that Bradford had the region’s lowest level of pupils getting into their first choice school with almost one-in-five missing out.

However the figure was an improvement on last year.

Calderdale, Leeds and Kirklees were the only other authorities in Yorkshire where more than one pupil in ten did not get into their top preference. In Calderdale it was 16.3 per cent, in Kirklees it was 13.9 per cent and in Leeds 11 per cent who missed out.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Around 74,000 children are still unable to attend the secondary school they want. Parents are faced with an extremely competitive and stressful process for securing a place for their children.

“We want to ease this pressure by creating more good school places, which is the driver behind all our reforms to the education system.”

The Government is allowing parents and teachers to launch their own free schools if they are unhappy with the choice on offer in their community.

Stephen Twigg, shadow education secretary, said: “The Tory-led Government’s approach to schools is simply haphazard. Parents will be worried that increasing pressure on school places, the fact that the Government is not prioritising real need, and there is no plan to raise standards in all schools will only make this situation worse.

“The Government must prioritise the majority of schools in England, not just a few pet projects.”

The figures show children in the North East have the highest chance of gaining a place at their chosen school – at 95.1 per cent while pupils in London have the highest chance of missing out – just two-thirds were offered a place at their first preference.