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Hundreds of Bucks families miss out of first choice school

The figure for offers from primary schools in the area has been released.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 1:59pm 1st July 2020. 4-minute read.

Hundreds of Bucks families miss out of first choice school

The number of families in Buckinghamshire getting their top school choice has fallen.

New figures show that one in nine children in Buckinghamshire missed out on their first choice primary school. 

Department for Education figures show that 88.8% of children starting primary school in September received an offer from their top pick - this is down from 90.4% last year. 

Which means 673 families missed out, as the number of primary schools in the area rose by 1% to 5,981. 

School leaders union the National Association of Headteachers says the anxiety for parents over not securing a place at their preferred school will "only be heightened" by fear and uncertainty felt during the pandemic. 

school children

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, said:

“The anxiety families are feeling, and the disappointment for those not getting their first choice, will only be heightened by the confusion and uncertainty caused by coronavirus.

“It is vital that no child going through the primary admissions process this year should be disadvantaged.

“For those families not getting their first choice of school, the appeals process must be as robust as ever and be made clear to parents.”

The Department for Education announced a temporary relaxing of the rules around school admission appeals at the end of April, meaning they do not have to be held face-to-face during the coronavirus pandemic.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

“The vast majority of parents have again received an offer from one of their top three preferences of primary or secondary school for the next academic year.

“We will be supporting primary schools that have capacity to bring back more children – with reduced class sizes of 15 – to do so if they can before the summer holidays, and we will be working with the sector to bring all children back to school in September."

What do Buckinghamshire Council say?

Bucks County Council

Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said that this year, 97.7% of primary applicants were allocated one of their top three preference schools, higher than the national average of 97.5%; with almost 90% of applicants offered their first preference primary school and 98% of applicants being offered one of their registered preferences.

In the March 2020 first secondary allocation round, almost three quarters of Buckinghamshire secondary applicants were allocated their first school preference.

Anita told us:

"Overall, this year's school place allocations have been good news for the overwhelming majority of applicants; particularly given that primary and secondary allocations have continued and more preferences have been met in the second and subsequent rounds. It's important to note that the council has been creating additional capacity in secondary schools and DfE figures show that we are rated first out of the 114 authorities who created pupil places for the quality of those places.

"We understand the disappointment that some parents will feel if they have not been allocated their preferred school. Our advice to parents if they are unhappy with the school place their child has been allocated is to accept the school place offered for the time being to ensure their child has a school place for September.

"They can then amend or add new preferences to their application and their child will be included on the waiting list for those schools (and the schools on the original application if this is what they wish). We will continue to make offers from the waiting lists up to and including September so will aim to offer as many children as possible a place at their preferred school and these offers are not reflected in the data collected on the national offer date."

Full information on the council's allocation and appeal process is available here.

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