Exclusive: Even poorly rated primaries becoming tougher to get into, new analysis reveals

New analysis shows it has become harder to get into primary schools – regardless of the Ofsted rating – over the past five years.

The figures from the FindASchool website, shared exclusively with TES, reveal that since 2010, the difference in average catchment areas between schools with “outstanding” and “requires improvement” Ofsted ratings has more than halved.

Monday is national primary offer day, when thousands of parents will find out if their children have secured their preferred place. But many could miss out as catchment areas get smaller and smaller.

It is now just as difficult to get a child into a “good” school as it is a “requires improvement” school, research suggests, whereas five years ago the schools with worse Ofsted ratings had significantly longer cut-off distances.

The average cut-off distance for oversubscribed primary schools with a Grade 3 from Ofsted has dropped by 723m, from 1900m in 2010 to 1177m last year.

In 2015, the average catchment area for outstanding primary schools was 869m – just 308m smaller than schools requring improvement.

Ed Rushton, founder of FindASchool, told TES: “It has become more difficult to get in all schools regardless of their Ofsted grade.

“These cut-off distances [of the schools requiring improvement] end up shrinking when that used to be just the case for the outstanding schools.

“Now it has become almost as difficult to get into any school as the schools are full.”

The Department for Education has been approached for comment.

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