Today we are publishing data, based on returns from 151 local authorities, showing that across the country 85.3% of families received an offer at their first preference secondary school—compared with 84.6% last year. A further 7.8% of families were offered a place at their second preference school and 95.9% were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools. In total, 97.6% 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, nearly 88.5% of parents were offered a place at their first preference school. The north-east continues to have the highest percentage of first preference offers with 95.1% and west midlands continues to have the lowest with 81.3%. For Greater London, this figure is 67.5%.
Parents have the right of appeal against any application that has been turned down; and over the summer, admission authorities will be hearing those appeals as well as dealing with late applications. Our priority is to get every child into school as quickly as possible.
All parents should have the opportunity to send their child to a good local school of their choice. Our school reforms will raise standards and create more good schools. We are working to increase the supply of good school places by the rapid expansion of the academies programme, establishing more free schools and giving all schools more freedom to expand the number of places they offer. We are encouraging the best and brightest into teaching and we are turning around underperforming schools that are failing their pupils.
In the White Paper, “The Importance of Teaching”, we announced our intention to review the school admissions code and the appeals code, with a view to delivering a simpler, more streamlined admissions process. The new codes which came into force on 1 February have removed many of the unnecessary and costly burdens on schools and local authorities making the system simpler for parents and admission authorities to understand, and more transparent.
Further details of the statistical release of “Applications and offers for entry to secondary schools in England in the academic year 2012/2013” can be viewed on the DFE Research and Statistics Gateway.