Success in choice of school ‘a lottery’

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PARENTS in Yorkshire face a postcode lottery over their chances of getting into their first choice school, according to new figures.

National Offer Day sees parents and pupils across the country discover which secondary school they have been allocated in September.

Although the vast majority of parents were successful initial figures from nine councils across the region show the level of applicants getting into their ideal school yesterday varied from one authority area to another.

There were 3,217 pupils who missed out on their first choice school across Yorkshire and 456 who failed to get into any of the options they put down according to figures from Calderdale, East Riding, Hull, Kirklees, Leeds, Rotherham, Sheffield, Wakefield and York councils.

This was compared with 29,724 applications across the nine areas which were placed at their top choice of school.

The decision letters were sent out yesterday as the Government announced that around £4bn would be made available to create new school places and to repair existing buildings.

Parents in parts of West Yorkshire were less likely to get into their first preference compared to other parts of the region.

Leeds, Kirklees and Calderdale all saw fewer than 90 per cent of parents getting their first choice of school while in the East Riding the figure was higher than 98 per cent.

In Leeds, 84 per cent of pupils were allocated their top choice, including 87 per cent of Leeds residents. This meant 16 per cent of year six pupils – 1,207 – missed out.

This is the first year that families applying in Leeds have been able to choose five schools to give more flexibility and choice. In total 95 per cent will attend one of their top three preferences. A further 45 children out of 7,707 were offered their fourth of fifth preference school.

There were 350 pupils applying in the city who did not get into any of their five choices.

Coun Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said: “For parents and carers, choosing a secondary school for their children is one of the most important decisions they will make and I am pleased that so many children will be attending their first preference school.

“In a very difficult environment this is encouraging progress and we will do everything we can to ensure parents have a full understanding of how the process works to ensure as many as possible receive one of their preferences.”

In Kirklees 86 per cent of pupils, 3,933 in total, got into their first choice of school. Almost 97 per cent of applicants – 4,442 – were given a place at one of their choices. There were 149 children, 3.2 per cent of those applying, who face going to a school their parents did not select.

In Calderdale 87 per cent of pupils (1,828) were given their first choice while just 18 missed out on any of their options. There were 266 Calderdale pupils who did not get into their first choice school.

East Riding had the highest level of people getting their first choice school with 3,001 successful applications – 98.5 per cent of pupils.

It was followed by York and Rotherham where the figure was 96 per cent and Wakefield where it was 95 per cent. York, which saw 80 per cent of parents apply online, has had its highest ever level of first choice acceptances.

In Sheffield, 91 per cent of pupils were allocated their first choice while in Hull it was 90 per cent. The council said there were parents of 77 pupils who did not apply.