Almost 98 per cent of Suffolk’s 11-year-olds have been offered one of their top three secondary school preferences for this autumn while the figure for Norfolk is lower at 95 per cent.
In Suffolk of 7,134 applications (417 more than last year), 6,632 children had their first choice of school met – 406 more than in 2015 – with 280 – an increase of 48 on 2015 – getting their second choice and 65 (equal to last year) getting their third.
In Norfolk of 8,299 applications (100 more than last year), 7,592 got their first school preference – 31 more than in 2015 – while 266 and 29 got their second and third preferences – up 43 and down two on 2015 – respectively.
Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills said: “It is extremely positive to see that we have been able to offer a preferred school place to over 97 per cent of the applicants.
“We use published criteria to decide priority for places so the process is fair and clear. We do, however, understand that some families may be disappointed or anxious about the offer we have made.
“When a parent’s preference is refused, we will put their child’s name on the waiting list for that school automatically and tell them how they can make an appeal, should they wish to do so.
“Starting secondary school is an important moment for any child, so the more we can do to make the transition right for the student, the better.”
A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council said: “This year’s figures are about where we expect to be. Although the percentage is slightly lower than last year, which was anticipated due to population growth, we are about 10 per cent higher than the national average and better than our geographical neighbours and the actual number of children offered their first preference has increased.”
She said the council had identified an alternative school for all the children who could not be offered a place at a preferred school and ‘in the vast majority of cases’ this is to the catchment school or to an alternative school less than three miles from home.
She added: “We know the decision for parents with children in Year 6 due to transfer to secondary school is an important one and for parents who are concerned their child hasn’t gained the place they were hoping for, the county council holds waiting lists for all over-subscribed schools until December 31. These lists are maintained in school criteria order to ensure if a place becomes available it will be re-filled.
“In addition to this, parents have the right to appeal against refusal – details are included in the decision letters that parents should be receiving from today (Wednesday March 3).
“As many schools are their own admission authority, it’s not necessarily only Norfolk County Council parents should appeal to so who parents should contact is listed in the notes to parents.”
The five most oversubscribed schools in Suffolk were: Northgate High School, Copleston High School, Kesgrave High School, Samuel Ward Academy and Pakefield School.
Norfolk was unable to give details of individual schools at this time.