School snub for one in five children

ONE in five children in Essex and one in ten in Suffolk failed to secure a place at their preferred secondary school this year, figures show.

ONE in five children in Essex and one in ten in Suffolk failed to secure a place at their preferred secondary school this year, figures show.

Essex County Council received 16,080 secondary schools applications from parents - but only 80.8% secured a place at their number one choice, below the national average of 82%.

Meanwhile, Suffolk County Council received 3,726 applications this year, of which 88.5% won a place at their preferred secondary school.

The figures, revealed yesterday by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, showed nearly one in five children nationally - about 100,000 - failed to win a place at their preferred secondary school this year.

Essex County Council said 90% of its parents got either their first or second choice of secondary school. It said this figure increased to 95.12% when excluding grammar schools.

Simon Walsh, cabinet member for schools, children and families, said: “Waiting for that admissions letter or email is a nerve-wracking time for families and it is tremendous that the council has been able to give good news to so many.”

Most Read

Ian Brown, head of infrastructure at Suffolk County Council, said: “In Suffolk, for this year's admissions to secondary schools in September, 95% of families were offered places at one of their preferred schools.”

Ministers yesterday warned a “shocking” number of schools were breaking admissions rules and denying places to children who parents refuse to pay fees.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls warned that a Government education review had uncovered unlawful admissions practices in a “significant minority” of schools.

Most of the schools involved were faith schools, many of which can legally ask parents for voluntary financial contributions towards their children's education.

But a snapshot survey in three out of 150 local authorities found some schools were “asking parents to commit to making financial contributions as a condition of admission”, he said.

In one case, parents were told to complete a standing order at the time they applied for a place.

Mr Balls said such action was “totally unacceptable”.

Schools Minister Jim Knight said some of the unlawful activities uncovered in the survey of Northamptonshire, Manchester and Barnet, north London, had been banned under primary legislation.

Ministers have written to 119 schools which have control over their own admissions in these three areas, warning them that they must comply with the new statutory school admissions code which came into force last year.

All local authorities in England will be required to report each year on whether schools are complying with the rules in their area under plans to amend the law, Mr Balls said.

The schools adjudicator will then have a complete picture of the fairness of admissions across the country.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter