41% of secondary school pupils missed out on first choice of school, MP’s report finds

Owen Sheppard (12 January, 2017) Education

The report also found that some schools were vastly oversubscribed, while other schools received fewer first-choice apllications

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Forty-one per cent of Southwark’s new secondary school pupils didn’t get their first-choice secondary school in 2016, a report by MP Harriet Harman found.

The Labour MP’s report also showed that Southwark as a whole was the sixth worst area in England for the number of parents and pupils losing their first choices.

But it also indicated that a minority of schools had attracted more than their share of first choices.

Harriet’s research looked at eight secondary schools that serve her  constituency of Camberwell and Peckham.

Charter School in East Dulwich was the most oversubscribed, as it received 306 first-choice applications for the 180 places available – up from 280 applications in 2015. Sacred Heart Catholic School in Camberwell had 166 first-choice applications for its 120 available places.

Meanwhile, the six other schools serving Camberwell and Peckham were shown to be undersubscribed for first choices. Ark All Saints Academy in Camberwell had only 75 per cent of its available first-choices places filled. Ark Walworth Academy had 52 per cent of its first-choice places filled.

Harris Girls’ Academy in East Dulwich had only 43 per cent filled; Harris Boys’ had 36 per cent; St Thomas the Apostle had 34 per cent; and Harris Academy Peckham had 23 per cent.

But the difference between which school was most popular didn’t correlate with which schools had the best results. St Thomas the Apostle received only one third of its capacity for first choice places, despite having the greatest number of pupils with five or more A*-C GCSEs in 2016. Harris Girls’ Academy also had the second best score of pupils with five A*-C GCSEs.

Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman

Harriet’s report also pointed out that the situation was more pronounced in London than elsewhere in England. Nearly one third of new pupils missed out on their first choice in the capital, compared to the national average of 15.9 per cent.

Commenting on the report, Harriet said: “It’s been another year of parents and children missing out on the schools of their choice and this is a problem which only seems to be getting worse. The Government must ensure the right steps are being taken to make sure every school is a good school that parents want to choose.”

The News reported in December that primary school funding looked set to be squeezed, as Southwark Council’s education budget took a hit from a new school spending formula.

Southwark Council – which oversees spending on primary but not secondary-academy school education in the borough – said £50m could be lost from a newly-proposed funding formula if approved by the government in 2017.

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