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Secondary School Application/Offers 2011

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 17 March 2011

Today we are publishing validated data, based on returns from 151 local authorities showing that across the country 84.6% of families received an offer at their first-preference secondary school—compared with 83.2% last year. A further 8.1% of families were offered a place at their second-preference school and 95.6% were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools. In total, 97.2% of families were offered a place at one of their preferred schools. I am placing a copy of these data in the Library of the House.

There is considerable variation in these figures nationally. Outside London, more than 87.8% of parents were offered a place at their first-preference school. The north-east had the highest percentage of first-preference offers with 94.3% and west midlands the lowest with 81.1%. For Greater London, this figure is 66.2%. However across London, 94% of families have been offered a place at one of their chosen schools.

Parents have the right of appeal against any application that has been turned down; and over the summer, local authorities and schools will be re-allocating places where others have moved address or chosen a different route of education for their child.

We are committed to improving the supply of high-quality school places, to put our trust back in schools and to support them in raising standards for all our children. Through the White Paper, “The Importance of Teaching”, we announced our intention to review the school admissions framework, with a view to delivering a simpler, more streamlined admissions and appeals code. We are determined to remove unnecessary burdens on schools while retaining accountability, transparency and fairness. We shall shortly be consulting on slimmer, less bureaucratic admission and appeals codes.

Our aim is to create an education system where every school is a good school, where discipline and attainment are principles for all; where teachers have the confidence to teach the knowledge and concepts that young people need to thrive in a global economy. Only when every school is a good school will we be able to remove the anxiety parents feel when selecting a school for their children. These figures show that too few parents, especially in London, have access to good school places, with one in six parents failing to secure their first preference.

We will continue our focus on improving performance in underperforming schools. The Secretary of State recently wrote to all local authorities asking them to develop school improvement plans for those schools below the floor standards. These plans will help identify the action needed to turn around those schools that are failing to provide a high quality of education. Schools will be supported to improve but if they do not do so quickly, we will look to transform them through conversion to academy status, under strong sponsors with a proven record in turning around underperformance. We will also continue our drive to increase the number of academies and to open more free schools to respond to demand.

This written ministerial statement contains Government and policy statements in relation to the statistical release “Secondary school applications and offers 2011” which can be viewed on the DFE research and statistics gateway. This statistical release was produced by officials working under the direction of Government statisticians in accordance with the code of practice for official statistics and was released at 9.30 am today.

The Information as to Provision of Education (England) Regulations 2008 require local authorities to submit data to the Department for Education on how many families received an offer of a place at one of their preferred secondary schools. This year on 1 March, almost 513,000 families were advised at which secondary school their child was being offered a place.