Slight rise in children getting first choice of primary school compared to 2021

Hundreds of thousands of families across England are finding out which primary school their child will be joining this autumn.

19 April 2022

Slightly higher proportions of children are gaining places at their first choice of primary school in many areas of England compared to last year, a survey suggests.

Hundreds of thousands of families across England are finding out what primary school they will be joining this autumn, on what is commonly known as National Offer Day.

Early findings from a PA news agency survey of local authorities shows a child’s chances of gaining a place at their preferred school varies significantly depending on which part of the country they are in.

As of midday on Tuesday, 19 of 35 councils in England, which reported data, saw a rise in children securing their preferred school compared to 2021.

Education Feature
Children are finding out which school they will attend (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Big rises in accepted first choices were in Newcastle, which saw an increase of 5.47%, Bristol, at 3.37%, and Middlesbrough which was up 3.2%.

Southend-On-Sea, in Essex, saw a rise of just over 4%.

Meanwhile, a drop of -2.17% from last year was reported in Warwickshire, while figures of -2.08% and -1.72% were seen in South Tyneside and Oxfordshire respectively.

Among the areas where high proportions of pupils have achieved their first preference were North East Lincolnshire, where 97.11% got their first pick, and Middlesbrough, which is 98.15%.

Elsewhere, 87% of children secured their first preference in Hertfordshire, while in Southend-on-Sea, 88.5% got their top choice, despite being up from 85% in 2021.

School stock
A youngster’s chances depends on their location (Danny Lawson/PA)

Just 84.9% got their first choice in Windsor and Maidenhead.

Overall most local authorities saw drops in the overall numbers of children granted their first choices due to lower applicants.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents the majority of primary school leaders in England, said: “This can be an anxious time for families. Choosing the right school and securing a place there is a huge moment in a child’s life and not everyone will get their first choice today.

“Support must be in place for families to navigate what can be a daunting process. For those families not getting their first choice of school, the appeals process will be going ahead.”


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