More pupils get school places of their choice

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Nearly 90 per cent of primary school starters are getting the school they want in September, claim County Hall chiefs.

Amid national stories of councils taking emergency measures to cope with the surge in pupil numbers – including using temporary buildings or disused public offices – all children who applied in Lancashire have been allocated a place, say county bosses.

Paul Bainbridge, Lancashire County Council’s pupil access manager, said: “Places were very tight last year, and this year it’s pretty much the same.

“The birth rate tends to rise and fall and we’re currently seeing an increase in numbers at reception class age.

“Despite this, more than 88 per cent of families are receiving their first preference school and nearly 96 per cent are getting one of their three preferences – and these figures will rise as waiting lists and appeals operate during the summer.

“However, we know it can be very disappointing for parents if they are one of the few who don’t get one of their preferences, and our local admissions teams will be happy to give information and advice.”

Admission letters are being sent out in the post this week. Hundreds of extra school places have been created around the county in the past two years to help meet growing demand.

Lynn Mappin, head of provision planning at Lancashire County Council, said: “Like other areas in the country, Lancashire is experiencing an increase in the birth rate, and the consequent need for primary school places.

“However, not surprisingly in a county as large as Lancashire, this happens at different rates in different areas – there is rarely a consistent pattern. We currently have our eye on a number of ‘hotspots’ where we are monitoring the effects of significant housing developments and a rise in the birth rate.

“We have already added 1,653 places across all schools in Lancashire, including at special schools, and, with the latest set of approvals to consult we are moving to a position of 1,940 places by September 2014.”

A total of 13,257 children have received primary school place offers this year, slightly down on last year’s figure of 13,551.

At present, 88.2 per cent have received their first preference, with a further 7.6 per cent getting their second or third preferences. Just 3.2 per cent have not got any of their preferences and one per cent are attending a school of a neighbouring authority.

For advice and information on school admissions and appeals, parents can telephone area education offices on these numbers: North (Lancaster, Wyre and Fylde): 01524 581112 or 581134 South (Preston, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Chorley): 01772 532191 or 532190

All those whose initial offer is not for their preferred school will automatically receive a form with information about waiting lists and appeals.

Appeals are heard locally and those for Lancashire primary schools are scheduled to take place in June and July 2013.