Secondary School Places: 77,000 Pupils Miss Out On First Choice

14/08/2014 17:02 | Updated 20 May 2015

Female teacher watching class doing educational exam

One in seven 11-year-olds were turned away from their top choice of secondary school, while more than 16,000 did not receive any offers from a preferred school, according to new figures from the Department for Education.

Over 77,000 of the 521,274 of pupils who applied for a secondary school place were turned away from their first-choice school, representing nearly 15 percent (14.8) of all applications. The majority of those turned away were offered a place at another school on their list. But over 16,000 did not receive an offer from any of their preferred schools, meaning that the council must arrange them a place at whichever local school has spaces available.

The areas worst affected by under-provision of school places were London and the West Midlands, where rates of acceptance stood at 70.2 per cent and 81.9 per cent respectively.

In contrast, 92.4 per cent of pupils in the North-East received an offer from their first choice school.

In terms of individual LEAs, Westminster had the lowest rates of acceptance, with nearly 41.6 percent of children failing to gain entrance to their preferred school.


Parents can appeal for a hearing to determine if the correct protocols were followed and whether the school's decision can be overturned, but the success rates of appeals are low.


Last year, around 66,000 11-year-olds missed out on an offer at their top choice of school, meaning that the number of children rejected from their first-choice school has increased by over 10,000.

However, the total amount of pupils applying for a secondary school place has risen by 20,000 since last year, suggesting that the population is growing at a rate which local education authorities are struggling to match.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said that meeting the growing need for school places across the country was 'one of our top priorities' and claimed that the the funding allotted to local councils to increase the number of available school places had been doubled to £5 billion.

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