Increase in number of Suffolk school children to miss out on first choice primary school

Sue Cook, Director of Children and Young people at Suffolk County Council

Sue Cook, Director of Children and Young people at Suffolk County Council - Credit: Archant

The number of applicants who have missed out on their first choice primary school for next year in Suffolk has risen in 2015 – but every child will be offered a place in a primary school somewhere.

Just over 90% of applicants in Suffolk got their child into their first choice primary school, down from just under 92% last year.

That meant 776 families were disappointed this year – up from 616 last year. However the total number of families getting their first choice increased from 7,016 to 7,152. The number of applications across the county increased from 7,632 to 7,928.

The number of people who failed to get any of their top three choices increased from 168 to 221 – but a spokesman for Suffolk County Council said no children were left without a school. All had been found a place at a primary school somewhere near their home address.

Sue Cook, Suffolk County Council’s director for children and young people, said: “It is extremely positive to see that we have been able to manage the increase in applications this year and still offer so many pupils one of their preferred primary, infant, junior or middle schools.

“All these pupils and their parents will have benefited from submitting their admissions application on time. As a result they have had the best possible chance of receiving an offer from one of their preferred schools.”

Not all parents were happy about having to send their children to a school so far from home.

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Lucy Gallagher, who lives just off Norwich Road, will have to travel 2.5miles to Rushmere Hall school after failing to be offered a place at her nearest school from September.

Mum Jess said: “We had hoped to get into Springfield so we could walk to school. That’s supposed to be what everyone says is best for everyone.

“But we didn’t get a place there so will have to go to Rushmere. It’s a good school and we’re very impressed with what we’ve seen there – but there’s no way we could walk there and back.”

Mrs Gallagher said it would not be difficult to drop Lucy off on her way to work in the town centre. “It’s just not what we had hoped for when we moved to a house within easy walking distance of a very good school.”

Meanwhile, more than 86% of children in Essex who are due to start reception in 2015 have been offered their first preference, with 6.6% being given their second choice.

Around 16,500 parents found out the outcome of their applications yesterday.

Chris Kiernan, Essex County Council’s interim director for commissioning education and lifelong learning, said: “I am delighted we have once again been able to offer the vast majority of children their parents’ first preference primary school, despite the growing pressure on places.

“This achievement is a further demonstration of the continued investment we are making in creating additional primary school places, as well as the hard work and dedication of schools and admissions staff.”