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Proportion of children securing first-choice secondary school place falls

The proportion of pupils gaining places at their first-choice secondary school has fallen, figures show.

Nearly a fifth of children have missed out on their top choice of secondary school, rising to more than two in five pupils in some areas of England, according to data from the Department for Education (DfE).

It comes as the number of applications to secondary schools in England rose by 0.8% to just over 605,200.

Figures show that 81.1% of children starting secondary school this September received an offer from their first-choice school, down from 82.2% last year.

Slough had the lowest proportion of families getting their top choice at just 56.1%, followed by Hammersmith and Fulham (57.3%) and Richmond upon Thames (59.8%) in London.

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The DfE said the figure will have been affected by the delay to the selective school tests due to the pandemic.

In some local authorities – including Slough – parents could name selective schools on the application form when their child may not have reached the standard required for an offer.

The statistics show that the proportion of children securing their preferred primary school has increased, from 90.2% in 2020 to 91.8% this year.

The number of applications to primary schools in England has dropped by 5.1% to around 580,700.

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