Most first-choice places for secondary pupils in Bucks since 2014

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More Bucks children are headed to their first-choice secondary school this September than in any year since 2015, new figures show.

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.

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

Stock school image, photo from Ben Birchall Press AssociationStock school image, photo from Ben Birchall Press Association
Stock school image, photo from Ben Birchall Press Association
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New figures from the Department for Education show there were 6,672 applicants to secondary schools in Buckinghamshire this year.

Of these, 77.3% were given a place at their first choice for the 2022-23 school year – up from 63% the year before, and the highest proportion since 2014-15.

Meanwhile, 94.9% were allocated to one of the schools on their list – also up from the year before, when the same figure stood at 94.5%.

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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 tell "part of the story".

"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.

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"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 South East, 91.2% were allocated their first-choice primary school, and 83.3% of incoming secondary pupils landed their first pick.

Ms Hunt continued: “For those parents that have not been offered their first choice, many will consider the use of the appeals and waiting lists system.

"Our own research has shown that navigating these can be difficult, with pupils from more affluent backgrounds being more likely to succeed via these routes.”

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The figures show 90.6% of Buckinghamshire children were given their first primary school of choice, a rise from the 89.3% in the 2021-22 school year, and the greatest proportion since 2014.

Almost every child was given a primary school place on their list, with 98.7% being allocated to one of their preferences.

School standards minister Robin Walker said: “It’s fantastic to see the overwhelming majority of prospective primary and secondary pupils once again receive offers from their preferred schools.

“We are continuing to drive forward work to level up the quality of education across the country, and with pupils already far more likely to go to a good school than they were ten years ago, parents can be confident that wherever they live their child will get the high-quality education they deserve.”

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