Parents defy rise in child population to secure place at first-choice primary schools

PUBLISHED: 11:21 17 April 2014 | UPDATED: 11:21 17 April 2014

The number of children given a place at their first-preference school has risen in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

The number of children given a place at their first-preference school has risen in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

More Norfolk and Cambridgeshire parents have secured a place for their child at their first-preference primary school, despite hundreds of extra children entering the system.

Mobile classroom at Howard Junior School Mobile classroom at Howard Junior School

A total of 94.4pc of Norfolk parents will be able to send their children to the school they like best in September, compared to a total of 93.3pc last year.

Norfolk County Council said the total number of applications increased by 228, but a better spread of parental preferences among schools, together with an extra 90 school places it provided, were key factors in the rise in satisfied parents.

In Cambridgeshire, the proportion who secured their first-choice primary school rose to 90.1pc, compared to 89.8pc last year.

This came despite an extra 299 children entering the system.

However, the proportion of disappointed parents in Suffolk increased as the percentage given their first preference fell to 92pc, from 93pc in 2013, against a backdrop of 143 more parents making applications.

About 500 Norfolk children did not receive their first choice, compared to 700 in Cambridgeshire and 600 in Suffolk.

Richard Snowden, head of Norfolk County Council’s school admissions service, said: “Families may have applied in different ways. Maybe there are other circumstances. Maybe they have moved, or they can afford to transport their children to schools they could not before.”

The extra three forms of entry for September 2014 are spread around one school in Downham Market, one in King’s Lynn, one on the outskirts of Norwich, and two in rural schools with short-term trends. Most are in modern mobile classrooms.

Based on information from planning and health authorities, the council expects the current trend for more four-year-olds entering the system to continue over the next four years.

It already has longer-term plans for 20 new schools to deal with anticipated new housing and population growth over the next 15-20 years.

Cambridgeshire County Council attributed the increased number of parents given their first preferences to the increased number applying for places online, and said: “This makes the whole process of allocating places and notifying parents much more efficient.”

Last month, the proportion of Norfolk pupils given their first-preference secondary school place fell slightly.

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