School place appeals lawyer warns of pressure on first choice in primaries

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Rising numbers of young children could miss out on their favoured primary school this year, as pressure on places grows.

Families find out this month which school their child will attend in September, but there are fears among some that they will not secure the place they are hoping for.

Matt Richards, an appeals lawyer, said he is already receiving high numbers of calls from certain areas of England from parents who believe they may face problems.

“I think that the number of children who miss out on their preferred choice will creep up, whether it will translate into appeals I don’t know because local authorities are trying to put people off,” he said.

“In terms of pupils, my gut feeling is there will be a shortage of places in some areas and children will miss out.”

Mr Richards, of said: “There are certain hotspots, places like west London and north east Surrey. We have had a lot of queries from these areas already, from people who have worked out there may be problems. From the Manchester area as well.”

He said there could be an increase in parents who wanted to appeal this year, but that many are being put off by admissions authorities who are telling families “before you think about appealing realise that only a small percentage will be successful because the law says this and this.”

Mr Richards said it was harder for parents to win an appeal to get a child into an infants class that already has more than 30 pupils as there are only certain reasons for allowing this. Nationally, parents have about a 28 per cent chance of winning a secondary school appeal, and a 14 per cent chance for an infant class, Mr Richards said.

Councillor David Simmonds, of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said there would be enough places. “Councils have a duty to provide every child with a primary school place and parents can rest assured we have [created] enough places for this year’s intake,” he said. “The recent baby boom has put pressure on the system but councils have created an extra 81,000 places and are on track to provide an additional quarter of a million by 2014/15.”