A third of children miss out on their first choice of secondary school in London

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Just over 30% of pupils missed their favorite school and were given a place in year 7 at another school, according to data from London Councils.

It comes amid a surge in demand for children needing help with special educational needs since the start of the pandemic, experts have said.

In London, the number of children applying for secondary school has fallen slightly, in part due to Brexit and families leaving the capital during the pandemic, according to London Councils.

It means this year’s figure for the number of London children getting their first preference school is 4% higher than last year.

Overall, 94% of students secured a place in one of the six schools they are allowed to apply to in order of preference. But this means that 5,268 children received a place in a school that was not on their list.

And 264 children have not yet been placed in any school. They will be put on waiting lists in the hope that some children will come out of the system to go private.

There are big differences in the capital. In Kensington and Chelsea, only 60% of pupils secured a place in the school of their choice, while in Barking and Dagenham the figure was 81%.

Pupils from Havering, Waltham Forest, Enfield, Ealing, City of London, Camden and Bexley were also more likely to enter their first choice school than elsewhere in London.

Martin Pratt, chairman of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services London, said: ‘When parents and pupils have not been offered their first preference, it is because in some schools demand places exceeds supply.

“I can reassure parents that there are enough secondary school places in London to meet overall demand.”

Damian White, chairman of schools and children’s services for the London council, said: ‘We will be keeping an eye on birth rates and population growth patterns, so that local authorities can continue to ensure that there there are enough places in the school for every child who needs them. .

“Councils are also facing a growing demand for services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which has unfortunately been exacerbated by the pandemic. We remain keen to work with government, boroughs and schools to support the development of specialist provision locally, to ensure that all pupils have access to a high quality education in London.

According to a snapshot survey, more children in other parts of the country have also won places in secondary schools of their first choice.

Early figures from 30 boards outside London that provided comparable data show that 20 have seen an increase in the proportion of pupils getting their first preference since 2021, while ten have seen a fall.

Areas where high proportions of pupils were given their first preference include Dorset, where 97.7% were given their first choice, and Wiltshire where 95.4% were also offered their first choice.

By comparison, in Wokingham, 76.3% of pupils got their first choice.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the head teachers’ union NAHT, said: “It can be a stressful time for families.

“Choosing the right school and securing a place there is an important moment in a child’s life, and not everyone will have their first choice today. There is a population explosion currently hitting schools secondary schools, which means that places are even more under pressure, especially in certain parts of the country.”

He added: “The problem is that in an increasingly fragmented school system, we lack a coordinated approach to venue planning.

“Local authorities are responsible for ensuring sufficient places in schools, but the powers and resources to do so have been removed. Instead, planning is haphazard; decisions are made in isolation and new Schools and new school places are not always put into operation in the areas where they are most needed.

“Until the government creates a national strategy to ensure there are enough school places for every child in England, the yearly anxious wait for families will continue.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: ‘We know Secondary School Offer Day is an exciting day for families, and the vast majority of pupils will be offered a place in one. from their favorite schools.Last year, 93.4% of students received offers from one of their top three choices of secondary school.

“Providing good quality school places in every corner of the country is a top priority for this government, and students are much more likely to get a place in a good school than they were more than a decade ago. ten years – with 86% of schools rated good or exceptional now, up from 68% in 2010.”

Borough of London

% entering a first-choice school

Barking and Dagenham

81.6%

Barnett

72.64%

Bexley

73.18%

Brent

69.80%

Bromley

67.64%

Camden

73.30%

City of London

73.53%

Croydon

65.37%

Ealing

73.71%

Enfield

73.20%

Greenwich

65.10%

Hackney

67.09%

Hammersmith and Fulham

62.14%

Haringey

70.31%

Harrow

67.66%

Have

81.21%

Hillingdon

71.03%

Hounslow

70.69%

islington

66.32%

Kensington and Chelsea

60.51%

Kingston on the Thames

70.05%

Lambeth

63.96%

Lewisham

61.99%

merton

69.22%

Newham

69.19%

Redbridge

65.51%

Richmond on the Thames

63.92%

Southwark

69.34%

sutton

73.14%

Tower hamlets

69.55%

Waltham Forest

78.47%

Wandsworth

65.22%

westminster

68.55%

TOTAL

69.95%

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