More than 96 per cent of Cherwell children offered first choice primary school

Just over 96 per cent of children in Cherwell have been offered their first choice of primary school for September, it has been revealed today (Tuesday, April 16).

In Oxfordshire, 93.39 per cent of the 7,125 applicants received their first choice – above all recent national averages across the UK.

Oxfordshire County Council director for children’s services Lucy Butler said: “Once again we’re delighted to be able to offer the overwhelming majority of families their first preference school, and wish all the children the very best for the coming school years.

“We constantly monitor demand for places and work closely with all schools to ensure there is sufficient capacity both across the county as a whole and within local areas.

“Oxfordshire compares very favourably with other parts of the country on school places and our strong track record on first-preference offers is down to that effective forward planning.

“We aim to give every Oxfordshire child a good start in life and this is part of that work.”

A county council spokesman said careful forward planning meant the right numbers of school places exist – since 2010 the council has created more than 10,000 new primary school places, an increase of 22 per cent.

About a fifth of that has been achieved via the building and opening of new schools and the rest through expansions of existing schools – new buildings, making better use of existing accommodation, or marginal increases in admission numbers.

This year’s countywide figure of 93.39 per cent for first preference offers is an improvement on 2018’s 92.77 per cent.

Although the national average for 2019 will not be published for some time, Oxfordshire remains ahead of the averages for 2018 (91 per cent) and 2017 (90 per cent).

In Northamptonshire, the proportion of families securing a place at their first preference school has risen to a record high of 93.2 per cent from 92.7 per cent in 2018.

Cllr Fiona Baker, county council cabinet member for children’s services, families and education, said: “Despite a rise in applications, this year a record number of families (93.2%) received an offer at their preferred choice school in Northamptonshire – which is great news for children across the county.

“The number of families receiving a place at one of their preferred schools is also the highest on record at 98.6% with thousands of children securing a place at a school they set out to apply for.

“It’s an exciting time to live in Northamptonshire with many large scale expansions happening across our towns and villages, and we’re working hard to create additional pupil places to meet demand and to make sure children have a bright future, living and learning in our county.”

An appeal process is available to families wishing to challenge the outcome of their application, and details of how to do this have been sent to parents.

Children’s names can also be placed on ‘continued interest’ lists in case places become available at schools at a later date.

Anyone who has yet to apply for a primary school place for their child for September, should print out and complete an application form from the council’s website and submit it to the council’s admissions team as soon as possible and no later than May 3.