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Over 10,000 London children fail to get first choice of primary school


Over 10,000 London children fail to get first choice of primary school


ore than 10,000 children have failed to get a place at their top choice primary school despite a drop in the number of applications, figures have revealed.

Families across the capital were finding out on Monday which school their children will start at in September amid a drop in demand for reception places. They are allowed to list six schools in order of preference.

Overall, 89 per cent of London children were given their first preference school, which is 0.6 per cent more than last year. But it still means 10,017 children will start at a school in September that was not their first choice. There was also an increase in the proportion of children getting one of their top three schools.

But figures releasedon Monday by the Pan-London Admissions Board show that two per cent of pupils — 1,622 children — were not given a place at any of the schools on their list. This percentage has not changed since last year despite the number of children applying for places dropping.

Children in Kensington and Chelsea were the least likely to get into their preferred school, withjust 71 per cent allocated their top choice, compared with 96 per cent in Barking and Dagenham, which scored the best results in London.

Tower Hamlets, Sutton, Newham and Hillingdon also had success rates of more than 90 per cent for first preference schools.

Overall, 87,277 families applied for a primary school place in London this year, which is a 2.67 per cent decrease on 2022.

London Councils said the drop in applications had been caused by a range of factors including a decreasing birth rate and families moving out of London due to the coronavirus pandemic or Brexit.

The reduction in demand for school places is putting the future of some schools under threat, because they are funded according to how many pupils they have.

Boroughs including Lambeth, Hackney and Camden say they are having to close or merge schools because of a drop in pupil numbers.

Archbishop Tenison’s secondary school in Oval, founded in 1685, will close this summer.

Schools are also struggling to balance budgets due to inflation and a shortage of teaching and support staff which has led to increased spending on more expensive agency staff, London Councils said.

Ian Edwards, London Councils Executive Member for Children and Young People, said: “It is positive that once again the overwhelming majority of children have an offer from one of their preferred schools.

“Boroughs have worked diligently with schools to ensure there are the places needed to meet demand across the capital.

“London boroughs are continuing to work with schools experiencing decreasing demand for school places to achieve good outcomes for young Londoners. London still has the best performing schools in the country and it is essential we protect them in this difficult climate.

“We remain keen to work with Government to respond to pressures surrounding primary school places and to support the growing demand for development of specialist SEND provision at a local level, ensuring that all London pupils have the best start in life,” he added.

Jane McSherry, spokeswoman for the Pan-London Admissions Board, said: “Challenges such as falling birth rates and family migration from London have led to a continued decrease in demand for school places and resulted in a reduction in total applications this year. Boroughs are supporting schools to deal with this challenge, meet the needs of our youngest residents and ensure school places continue to be available where there is demand.”

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