Delight at school admission figures

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HUNDREDS of Wigan youngsters have have been told whether they have won a coveted place at their first choice of secondary school.

And for the vast majority of Year Six primary pupils in the borough, the answer is a deafening yes.

While thousands of children across the country have been left disappointed by their news, 94.5 per cent of local children received their first choice.

Initial figures suggest that in some areas of the country, almost one in four 11-year-olds missed out on a spot at their preferred secondary school, while in others, virtually all youngsters got a place at their top pick.

Last year, almost 66,500 youngsters (13.3%) nationally were not offered a place at their first choice of secondary school, according to government statistics, with 3.5% not getting an offer from any of their top three choices,

This week councils across the country are sending out letters to about half a million families informing them of the school their child has been allocated to this September, on what is commonly known as National Offer Day.

While for many the news will be the result they had been hoping for, others will be let down as competition for the best schools is fierce, particularly in big cities.

But in Wigan the figures make pleasant reading for most parents, with 3,120 receiving their first preference, 120 (3.7 per cent) their second, 17 (0.5 per cent) their third and 14 (0.5 per cent) children received no preference at all.

A council spokesman said: “The 14 children who could not be offered one of their preferred schools, in line with our secondary co-ordinated admission scheme, were offered a place at the nearest school to their home with a vacancy.”

A snapshot survey of local councils, conducted by the Press Association, indicates a child’s chances of gaining a place at a favoured school varies depending on where they live. In Cornwall, around 98.9% of children won a place at their first choice of secondary school, along with 96% in Staffordshire, 97.6% in East Riding, 97.11% in North Lincolnshire and 96.2% in Leicestershire.

The figures were similar in Bolton (88.6% got their first choice), Leeds (86%), and Tameside (88.2%).

But in Sandwell, around one in four did not get a place at their to preference of secondary school.

Some figures provided by local councils indicate that in a number of areas, fewer pupils are getting their number one school this year, with the data indicating that this may be due to rising application numbers.

This year the problem has also been exacerbated by a rise in schools offering places by lottery, making it utterly impossible for parents to know whether they stand a chance getting their child in.

Councillor Susan Loudon, Wigan Council cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The figures show more than 95 percent of young people in Wigan Borough got a place at their first preference secondary school. I’m very pleased because that shows we have planned well and have places in schools where we need them.

“It’s unfortunate for the very small number of young people who didn’t get one of their preferences but we’ve been able to accommodate the vast majority of applications.

“Wigan borough’s schools are enjoying a great year with record results and positive reports from Ofsted.

“We have an excellent and enviable education record and I’m proud of our schools, staff and most of all our young people. I wish them all the best for September and their future school careers.”

Siobhan Freegard, founder of the popular parenting site Netmums said finding the right school place causes parents weeks of stress.

She said: “Getting your child into a good school is one of the biggest struggle faced by parents.

“There are weeks of stress and worry leading up to admissions day.”