90 per cent of children get first choice of school

Up to nine in 10 children have been given their first choice school in the Black Country and Staffordshire, despite the baby boom creating extra demand for every place, it can be revealed today.

In Staffordshire, 92 per cent of parents have been allocated their favourite school for their children.

The figure is 88.56 per cent in Sandwell, 88 per cent in Dudley and 87.75 per cent in Wolverhampton.

Families began receiving the news yesterday.

It comes despite councils receiving hundreds more applications this year than last as birth rates continue to soar and put pressure on capacity. The baby boom is being seen across the country. The rise is being driven by more women in their 20s and 30s becoming mothers.

Education chiefs in Staffordshire say the birth rate has shot up by 11 per cent in the past decade but in recent years, 2000 extra primary school places have been created by expanding schools and building two new ones.

County Councillor Ben Adams, cabinet member for learning and skills, said: “Despite the rise in birth rates and the extra pressures on primary school places, through careful managing of the admissions process and the extra capacity we are putting in Staffordshire schools we have managed to ensure the majority of parents are offered one of their top three places.”

Education bosses in Wolverhampton admitted the number of applicants receiving their preferred school had seen a slight dip from 90.39 per cent last year as there had been 182 extra applications this year.

James McElligott, Wolverhampton City Council’s assistant director for education and enterprise, said: “The increase in the number of children applying for places has resulted in a small decrease in the figures for children achieving their first choice school compared with last year. The authority always endeavours to provide as many children with places at their preferred school as possible and we are pleased we have been able to achieve this.”

Sandwell bucked the trend in providing slightly more parents with their first preference – up from 87.99 per cent last year. Bosses put the increase down to planning well for the increase in demand. The council has created 535 new reception places since 2011.

Dudley Council planned around its existing school buildings to allocate places. The authority said it was not yet the case that demand was more than schools’ capacity.

Pauline Sharratt, director for children’s services at Dudley Council, said: “The demand this year has been greater than in previous years. However, the local authority has worked to ensure that every child is offered a place within a reasonable distance of their home.”