Increase in the number of students obtaining a first-choice school on National Offering Day

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Here are signs that more children are gaining places in their first choice of secondary school in a number of parts of England, according to a survey.

Hundreds of thousands of families across England find out which secondary school their child will join this autumn, on what is commonly known as National Offer Day.

Early indications from a Palestinian Authority news agency survey of local authorities suggest that a youngster’s chances of winning a place in the school of their choice have improved since last year.

The survey sent to councils across England, except London, suggests a number of local authorities have seen an increase in the proportion of children receiving their first preference compared to last year .

Early figures, from 30 boards that provided comparable data, show that 20 have seen an increase in the proportion of pupils getting their first preference since 2021, while 10 have seen a decline.

Among the areas where high proportions of pupils were given their first preference are Dorset, where 97.7% were given their first choice, and Wiltshire where 95.4% were also offered their first selection.

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

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the head teachers’ union NAHT, said: ‘This 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 secondary schools, which means places are under even more pressure, especially in some parts of the country.

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

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

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

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

“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 as good or outstanding today compared to 68% in 2010.”

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