Fall in number of Northumberland pupils winning a place at first-choice secondary school

Fewer children than ever are headed to their first-choice secondary school in Northumberland this September, new figures show.

By Will Grimond
Sunday, 3rd July 2022, 7:23 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd July 2022, 7:23 pm

In April, pupils starting at primary and secondary state schools this year found out which school they would be attending.

Parents can put between three and six preferences down for a state school of choice, with the exact number varying between local authorities.

Schools are ranked by order of preference, with pupils allocated to the highest school on the list for which they meet the eligibility criteria.

A total of 95% of secondary school applicants have been given their first choice for the 2022-23 school year – down from 97.9% the year before.

New figures from the Department for Education show there were 1,911 applicants to secondary schools in Northumberland this year.

Of these, 95% were given a place at their first choice for the 2022-23 school year – down from 97.9% the year before, and the smallest proportion since comparable data was first recorded in 2014-15.

Meanwhile, 99% were allocated to one of the schools on their list – also down from the year before, when the same figure stood at 99.6%.

If pupils do not receive an offer from any of their preferences, they are given a place at another school by the local council.

Across England, 83.3% of more than 600,000 applicants are headed to their first choice of secondary school in September, up from 81.1% last year.

But Emily Hunt, associate director at the Education Policy Institute think tank, said these statistics only told "part of the story".

She added: "We know from our research that first choice offer rates vary considerably across the country, as does the availability of high performing schools to apply to.

"The criteria used to determine whether a pupil is offered a place can also make it difficult for pupils who are unable to live nearby.”

Across the whole of the North East, 96.1% were allocated their first-choice primary school, and 89.2% of incoming secondary pupils landed their first pick.

The figures show 97% of Northumberland children were given their first primary school of choice, a drop from the 98.4% in the 2021-22 school year and the lowest proportion since 2017-18.

Almost every child was given a primary school place on their list, with 99.4% being allocated to one of their preferences.