The state school scramble: up to 13 applicants per place as thousands set to miss out on preferred choice

Up to 13 children are competing for entry to the country’s best state schools amid a desperate scramble for places today. Tens of thousands face missing out on their preferred secondary schools amid mounting competition on National Offer Day. This is from the Daily Mail…

Competition is particularly fierce in areas of the country including Kent and Buckinghamshire where some parents are already planning appeals after their children failed to get into grammar schools.

As many as one in six 11-year-olds – 74,000 – are set to be rejected from their first choice secondary when places are allocated across England.

And about 20,000 are likely to be forced to accept places at comprehensives that their parents did not mention among their top three choices on application forms.

Some 500,000 children will discover their secondary school places today with primary allocations announced in April.

Experts say that competition this year has also been fuelled by rising numbers of parents being forced to leave the private sector and look for state schools instead.

Families are also increasingly competing places at free schools and academies that are funded by the taxpayer but free from local government control.

At the West London Free School, founded by journalist, Toby Young, there were 1,178 applicants for 120 places – almost ten applicants per place.

The Greenwich Free School in London, which opened in September 2012, had 640 applications for 100 places.

King Solomon Academy in Westminster – which is rated outstanding by Ofsted – has almost nine applications per place. Ark Academy in Wembley – also judged outstanding – has seven applicants per place.

Sutton Grammar School for Boys, in Sutton, Surrey, launched a two-stage testing process this year in a bid to ‘reduce the anguish’ for parents when filling in their application forms.

Just over 1,600 children sat the first test on October 6 in a bid to land one of 120 places – a ratio of 13 applicants for one place.

Just 588 were invited back for the second test in November, with one in five competing for places.

The remainder knew not to place the grammar school on their application form which had to be submitted by October 31.

Matt Richards, senior director of which helps parents challenge admissions decisions, has already been contacted by around 50 families from across the country as they anticipate being disappointed today.

He said there is a ‘lot of pressure’ on the grammar sector, with more than a dozen parents already planning appeals after their children failed the 11 plus exam.

He added: ‘We’ve also noticed a steady flow of people coming out of private and going into the state sector.’

Mr Richards said the picture was ‘patchy’ across the country.

He added: ‘If you’re in some parts of London or across the South East, there are a lot of worried people.’

One father-of-three, who was forced to withdraw his 14-year-old daughter from private school after losing his media job, has battled to get her into a good state school.

The 44-year-old from North London said: ‘The best state schools are extremely difficult to get into.

‘The appeal route is now a more used option because of the difficulty involved.’

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, added: ‘Schools differ widely and canny parents are eager to get their children into the best schools because they know the difference it makes.

‘You will get a lot of competition for some schools and other schools will have places that children end up in – they’re not popular but that’s where they go if they haven’t been able to get into their top choices.’

Last year, children in the North East had the highest chance of gaining a place at their chosen school – 95.1 per cent in the region gained their first choice.

But pupils in London had the largest risk of losing out, with just two-thirds (67.5 per cent) being offered a place at their first preference.

More at:  The state school scramble: 13 applicants per place as thousands set to miss out on preferred choice

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