Primary And Secondary School Places 2017 – The Latest Statistics


The Law Of… Getting The Right School Place

The Department for Education has recently released statistics on secondary and primary school applications and offers for 2017.

Samantha Hale, Associate Solicitor specialising in Education and Community Care investigates these statistics.

Secondary School Applications

Data from national offer day 2017 – 1st March – shows that 83.5% of secondary school applicants managed to successfully get a place at their first choice school.

Interestingly, this is slightly lower than last year's figure. It also continues a trend where the number of first choice secondary school places allocated has been falling from 86.7% since 2013.

The statistics also show that:

  • 562,487 applications were made for secondary school places in 2017 – this was a 2.6% increase from 2016
  • 83.5% of children received their first choice secondary school in 2017 – a lower figure in comparison to 84.1% in 2016
  • 96.1% of children received an offer from any of their preferred schools in 2017 – this stood at 96.5% in 2016

Significant Regional Differences

What's concerning is that these statistics also reveal significant regional differences in the number of children who secured a place at their preferred choice of school and those who didn't. This pattern is consistent with the results from previous years, which is equally as problematic.

In 2017:

  • The best secondary school preference rates were in Northumberland (98.2%), Cornwall (97.3%) and Bedford (96.8%) – Northumberland and Cornwall have had the highest rates for the past 3 years
  • The lowest first preference rates were all in London: Hammersmith & Fulham (53.6%), Westminster (56.6%) and Lewisham (57.8%)

Even though Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster's first preference rates have been some of the lowest since 2015, their rates did increase in 2017 from last year's rates of 52% and 53.4%.

Primary School Applications

Rising by 1.6% from 2016, 90% of children were offered a place at their first choice primary school in 2017.

Data shows that in 2017:

  • 620,330 applications were made for primary school places – this was 3.3% lower than the 641,572 applications made in 2016
  • 97.7% of children received any of their preferred school choices in 2017 – this is an increase from 96.9% in 2016

Breaking Down The Data By Region

The report also shows that there are big differences in the number of children who received their first choice primary school in different parts of the UK:

  • In 2017, the best first preference rates were in Redcar & Cleveland (98.7%), Hartlepool (97.7%) and Cumbria (97.4%)
  • The worst first preference rates this year were in Kensington & Chelsea (68.4%), Hammersmith & Fulham (75.2%) and Reading (78.9%)
  • In London, 85.9% of children got a place at their first choice primary school in comparison to 68.2% of children who were given their first choice of secondary school
  • 2.8% of primary school places that were outside of a child's Local Authority were allocated

Samantha offers advice:

"Parents who weren't successful in getting their first preference can appeal against this decision to an independent appeal panel. At this stage, most parents who wanted to appeal will either have had their appeal hearing or will be having it shortly."

"If you haven't had your appeal hearing yet, it's not too late to seek help – speak to our Education Law team to find out how we can help you."

"Alternatively, if you have had your appeal hearing and it was unsuccessful we can advise you on whether or not you have grounds to challenge it due to either a legal or procedural error."

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