Primary places: Most across Wearside and Durham get preferred place

Sunderland Civic Centre.
Sunderland Civic Centre.
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Almost all parents have been offered their first choice of school for their youngster, figures have shown.

Across the 83 primary schools across Wearside, which includes seven junior schools, 2,702 applications - 91% - were accepted for a family’s preferred option.

Despite rising pupil numbers, at primary, the number of pupils in excess of their school’s capacity has fallen by a quarter since 2010, and average class sizes have seen little change,

Department for Education spokesman

A further 157 - 5.3% - were accepted for a second choice and 29 - just 1% - were given their third choice.

Sunderland City Council has said 82 applications - 2.7% - were offered none of their three choices.

In Durham County Council’s area, a total of 5,296 applications for primary school places were received, compared to 5,186 last year.

Of those, 4,947 - 93.41% - were given their first place, 219 - 4.14% - were given their second choice and 38 - 0.72% - were given their third option.

Ninety-two children - 1.73% - were not allocated any of their first three preferred schools.

All children were offered a place, the council has said.

The allocations by both councils reflect the picture nationally, where 90% of families across England have been given their first choice.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned an additional 336,000 places would be needed across the country by 2024 and says councils will not have the power to force schools to expand, even where there is demand and capacity.

Roy Perry, chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Most academies will be keen to work with their local authorities, but in the minority of situations where this isn’t the case, appropriate powers are vital to ensure all children get a suitable place.”

Lucy Powell, shadow education secretary, has also said oversubscribed schools mean children are crammed into supersized classes.

The Government has spent £5billion creating places between 2011 and 2015 and 95.9% of parents received an offer at one of their top three preferred primary schools last year, the Department for Education said.

“Despite rising pupil numbers, at primary, the number of pupils in excess of their school’s capacity has fallen by a quarter since 2010, and average class sizes have seen little change,” a spokesman added.

“Of course there is more to do - that’s why this Government has already committed to invest a further £7billion to support councils in delivering school places, which along with our investment in 500 new free schools we expect to deliver 600,000 new places by 2021.

“It is simply not true to suggest councils cannot commission new schools - where councils identify that a new school is needed in their area they are required to run a competition to identify strong providers for a new free school.”