Pupils don’t all get their own way
SCHOOL PLACES: Rise in number of children missing out on first preference
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.