First-choice high school offerings will hit an all time low

National Supply Day will coincide with teacher strikes after the National Education Union said the action would go ahead.

The union said this week it was “prepared to recommend a strike break” to its national executive committee on Saturday in a “sign of goodwill”, but only if a “serious proposal” is made to end the dispute.

But on Saturday, NEU said it did not expect any development and that the strikes are continuing.

Regional strikes by NEU members are scheduled for February 28, March 1 and 2, and the national strike in England and Wales is scheduled for March 15 and 16.

Last year, the lowest first-choice rates were recorded in London boroughs such as Kensington & Chelsea, Lewisham and Hammersmith & Fulham, between 60.5% and 62.1%.

Professor Smithers said this could be attributed to the ease of movement across borders and six options can be named compared to just three in other parts of the country, increasing applications.

However, in Central Bedfordshire, Rutland and the East Riding of Yorkshire, between 97% and 98% of families got their first choice of school.

“We have quite a few anxious parents”

Simon Elliott, chief executive of the Community Schools Trust, which runs Forest Gate Community School in Newham, east London, is set to disappoint hundreds of parents next week.

The school, rated outstanding by Ofsted, was ranked first choice for a record 435 families, up from 133 eight years ago. Hundreds more have selected the school as their second choice. However, it only has 270 seats.

Elliott said the school has had to reduce its catchment area this year to 0.9 miles due to high demand, even though it added 60 spots in 2021.

“People with sharp elbows are coming closer to the school, which has had an impact on housing prices,” he said. “But they may find that they don’t live close enough.”

He said he expected to receive a large number of appeals after the offer day, adding: “As a school, we have a lot of anxious parents who want to get in but can’t. It’s not nice.

Stuart Brooks, principal of Sanders Draper School in Havering, east London, said the three schools under his trust had seen record demand this year, with more families choosing Sanders Draper as their first choice than places available.

Brooks said he was reluctant to expand the 150 places it offers, citing the school culture he “has worked very hard to create” which could be put at risk by bringing in another batch of students.

Councilors have met with officials this week to discuss the pressures in areas with a high number of oversubscribed schools, such as Trafford, Greater Manchester, where one in four families missed out on their first-choice secondary school last year. .

Parents in Bristol launched a campaign highlighting a shortage of secondary places after complaining that only 77 per cent received their first choice last year, forcing some 11-year-olds to travel four miles on a bus across the city ​​to go to school.

‘Our secondaries are already oversubscribed’

Steve Chalke, chief executive of the Oasis academy chain of trust, which runs schools across the country, said some schools in central urban areas had extra capacity because people moved during the pandemic and did not return, while other schools in more suburban areas they had plenty of time. waiting lists

Benedick Ashmore-Short, chief executive of Park Academies Trust, which runs schools in Wiltshire, said: “Our secondary schools are already oversubscribed so this population increase has posed a challenge, but we have been able to be flexible and take on as many students extra as possible.”

The Local Government Association said growing the academies was challenging because councils have no power to order them to expand. Nor can they open new schools.

Cllr Louise Gittins, who chairs the LGA’s children and youth board, said: “Councils need these powers as soon as possible to ensure as many children as possible get the places they want.” Local authorities have added 65,000 secondary places to existing schools since 2018, she said.

A Department of Education spokesperson said: “Last year, 94.4% of applicants for a secondary school place received an offer from one of their top three options, while 83.3% were offered the high school of your first choice.

“Students are also much more likely to receive a place in a good school than they were 10 years ago, with 86 percent of schools rated good or outstanding now compared to 68 percent in 2010.

“We have already created more than a million places in the last decade, the largest increase in at least 20 years. We are also announcing almost £530 million to provide the primary and secondary places needed by 2023, and £940 million for the places needed by 2024 and 2025.”


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