Up to one in five children miss out on top choice primary, survey of local authorities shows

More than one in five children missed out on their preferred primary school in one local authority area today, a survey shows.

In Reading just 78.6 per cent got their first choice, while in Trafford and Woking the percentage was 85 per cent, according to research from the Press Association.

But in other areas on primary offer day, almost all children got their first choice school. The initial survey of 49 authorities shows that, on average, nearly 90 per cent of pupils were given their first choice place.

However, there were wide differences around the country, with at least 29 local authorities having less than 90 per cent of youngsters placed in their top choice of primary school. In Redcar & Cleveland 97.8 per cent of new starters got their preferred place.

The government spent £5 billion creating places between 2011 and 2015, and 95.9 per cent of parents received an offer at one of their top three preferred primary schools last year, the Department for Education said.

“Despite rising pupil numbers, at primary, the number of pupils in excess of their school’s capacity has fallen by a quarter since 2010, and average class sizes have seen little change,” a spokesman said.

‘Shortage of places’

Employment minister Priti Patel, who is a Eurosceptic, said it was “deeply regrettable” that families in England would be hit by a shortage in primary school places, and claimed that “uncontrolled migration” put pressure on public services.

“The shortage of primary school places is yet another example of how uncontrolled migration is putting unsustainable pressures on our public services,” she said.

“Education is one of the most important things that government delivers, and it’s deeply regrettable that so many families with young children are set to be disappointed today.”

However, a Whitehall source said: “There’s no evidence that migration is the key driver of demand for primary school places.”

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInGoogle GmailShare