Pupils don’t all get their own way

SCHOOL PLACES: Rise in num­ber of chil­dren miss­ing out on first pref­er­ence

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - JUNC­TION 10 - By Paul Fran­cis

AN es­ti­mated 4,000 pupils have missed out on their first-pref­er­ence school this year, say county ed­u­ca­tion chiefs.

While around three-quar­ters of the 15,795 chil­dren ap­ply­ing for sec­ondary places did suc­ceed in get­ting a place at their first choice sec­ondary school, 4,115 did not – a rise of six per cent on the num­ber who missed out last year.

The large num­ber miss­ing out raises the prospect of a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in ap­peals.

KCC is now in­ves­ti­gat­ing to find out why the numbers miss­ing out rose this year, in line with na­tional trend.

Cllr John Sim­monds (Con) KCC’s cabi­net mem­ber for ed­u­ca­tion, said the in­crease was un­ex­pected and ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials would ex­am­ine the fig­ures to find out why.

“I have asked for an anal­y­sis of the data. My gut feel­ing is that par­ents have been bolder this year be­cause schools have been told they cannot use ‘first pref­er­ence first’ ad­mis­sions ar­range­ments,” he said.

Par­ents were told the out­come of ap­pli­ca­tions for places at the county’s 99 sec­ondary schools last week. Chil­dren who sat the 11-plus also learned if they had passed.

But there was frus­tra­tion for par­ents who ap­plied on­line and hoped to dis­cover the out­come ear­lier. The county coun­cil was forced apol­o­gise after its web­site crashed.

Ac­cord­ing to Kent County Coun­cil, of the 15,795 chil­dren ap­ply­ing, 96 per cent have re­ceived an of­fer of a place at one of the schools they wanted, a small rise on last year.

Of those, 11,680 were of­fered their first pref­er­ence - 1,295 fewer than last year.

The num­ber of­fered a place at their sec­ond pref­er­ence school rose by more than 850 to 2,554. Mean­while, there was a drop in numbers who were al­lo­cated a school they did not list at all. That fell to 617 from 794 last year.

This year is the first in which all sec­ondary schools in Kent have had to adopt equal pref­er­ence ad­mis­sions ar­range­ments. In the past, many schools gave greater pri­or­ity to those that ranked them first, a prac­tice stopped by the in­de­pen­dent schools ad­ju­di­ca­tor.

Un­der Kent’s ad­mis­sions ar­range­ments, par­ents can name three schools on their forms and by law, must be told the out­come on March 1.

Un­der KCC’s timetable, by March 22, par­ents should have made any ap­peal for a school which has not been of­fered and told the au­thor­ity if a place of­fered is be­ing re­jected. Par­ents must also no­tify the school if ac­cept­ing a place.

KCC has a helpline, 01622 696565.

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