National Offer Day: Vast majority of families land a spot at their first-choice secondary school

Pupils at Northgate High School eager to join in a discussion during their personal, social and heal

Pupils at Northgate High School eager to join in a discussion during their personal, social and health education lesson. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The vast majority of parents in Norfolk and Suffolk have secured their children a place at their first-choice secondary school.

Though a technical hitch saw some parents wait longer than planned, Norfolk County Council revealed that 94.9pc of parents secured a spot at their preferred school for 2017/18.

The figure, revealed yesterday on National Offer Day, is a slight rise on last year's 94.7pc, but a dip on the 95.4pc in 2015/2016.

In total, 98.4pc of applicants received a spot a one of their top three schools in September.

It was a similar picture in Suffolk, where 93.2pc of Suffolk families - 6,681 out of 7,171 - received their first choice, up on last year's 93pc.


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A further 3.68pc received their second choice and 97.8pc of pupils received offers for their top three schools for 2017/18 - the highest proportion in three years.

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, education and skills, said: 'It is extremely positive to see that we have been able to offer a preferred school to the majority of applicants this year.

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'We use published criteria to decide who has priority for places so that the process is fair and clear. We do, however, understand that some families may be disappointed or anxious about the offer we have made.'

He said when a parent's preference is refused, the child's name is put on a waiting list and information given about appealing.

'Starting secondary school is an important moment for any child, so the more we can do to make the transition right for the student, the better,' Mr Jones added.

It comes as more parents nationally face losing out on their first choice, according to Press Association analysis of government data.

The situation has become tougher over the past five years, with two-thirds of local authorities witnessing a drop in the percentages of pupils gaining any of their preferred schools.

There have been continuing concerns about a squeeze on school places, caused in part by a recent rise in the birthrate, that is now seeing its way through into secondary schools.

Government data shows that last year, 80 out of 151 local authorities, 53pc, saw a drop in the proportion of pupils given their first choice, compared with the year before.

More than half - 57pc - of authorities, 85 in total, have seen a fall in the proportion of 11-year-olds offered their first secondary school preference over the past five years.

A DfE spokesman said: 'The proportion of parents getting a place at their first choice of school remains stable, and last year almost all parents got an offer at one of their top three preferred schools.'

How can I appeal?

You'll receive a letter from your local authority to tell you that your child has not got a place at your chosen school.

The letter will tell you how to make an appeal - including how to get hold of the form you'll need to do so.

You will need to appeal in writing and will explain why you disagree with the decision, why your child deserves a place at the school and any change in circumstances since your original application.

The form will include the appeal deadline - though appeals timetables must be published online.

There is more information on Norfolk here and here for Suffolk.

You will given a date for your appeal hearing at least 10 days in advance, before an appeal panel - with three to five members - will assess your case.

Once the appeal has been heard, the panel has to decide whose case is stronger – yours or the school's.

You'll be told the result by post within seven days – a legally binding decision.

• How did your children fare on national offer day? Let us know by emailing lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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