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Record number of children expected to miss out on top choice secondary school

Around 90pc of children starting secondary school in Norfolk in 2019 will be going to their first choice school, according to data from Norfolk County Council. Picture: Getty Images

Around 90pc of children starting secondary school in Norfolk in 2019 will be going to their first choice school, according to data from Norfolk County Council. Picture: Getty Images

Archant

Norfolk children will be among 115,000 pupils who are expected to miss out on their first-choice secondary school in September.

The Good Schools Guide estimates that almost a quarter of the 606,000 children expected to apply for secondary school places for the next academic year will not get their first choice – leaving a record number of families disappointed.

Through analysis of government data, the guide also predicted that the number of children expected to receive offers from a “non-preferred school” – one which is not on their preference list of between three and six schools, depending on the local authority – will rise, having accounted for 4.1pc of applicants nationally last year.

On the day offers are announced, the guide is urging parents and carers not to reject an unwanted place.

Data from the Department for Education shows that more than 80pc of pupils in the East of England secured their preferred secondary school place for the 2018-19 academic year.

The guide said families in large metropolitan areas, for example London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester, were most likely to miss out on a first-choice school.

Families unhappy with the place offered to their child can appeal. Of the 9,991 secondary school places offered in Norfolk for the 2017-18 academic year, 215 appeals were lodged; of the 123 appeals heard, 40pc were decided in the parents’ favour.

Bernadette John, director at The Good Schools Guide, said: “Secondary school can be key to unlocking a child’s potential, so no wonder parents are dismayed when the place they get is for an undesirable school.

“It has been known for a long time that secondary schools would need to accommodate increased pupil numbers but little action seems to have been taken.

“Some parts of the country simply do not have enough places to satisfy local demand and elsewhere, many under-performing schools are rejected by families, resulting in the desperate rush as parents put their hopes in the good local school which, of course, is hugely oversubscribed.”

But Ms John urged parents not to immediately reject the school place offered to their child, “no matter how unwelcome”, even if the place is only held while they research other options or appeal for preferred schools.

As of October 31 2018, 42 of Norfolk’s 52 secondary schools were ranked as “good” or higher by Ofsted.

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