Around one in six children missed out on their first choice of secondary school this year, official figures out today reveal.
The government figures show that 84.1 per cent of 11-year-olds were offered a place at their preferred secondary school this September. The rate is almost the same as last year, when 84.2 per cent received their first choice.
At primary level, 88.4 per cent of four-year-olds were offered a place at their first choice of school, a slight rise from 2015 when 87.8 per cent got their top preference.
But the figures also show that students' chances of getting into their preferred schools vary widely.
London students were less likely to get into their first choice of school, with just 52 per cent of students getting into their first-choice secondary in Hammersmith and Fulham – the lowest rate in the country.
Students in the North East were most likely to get their first choice of secondary school (91.8 per cent). In Northumberland, 98.7 per cent of students get into their first choice of secondary school – the highest rate in the country.
Applications on the rise
There were 568,723 applications for secondary school in 2016 – the highest number since 2008.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Delivering good quality school places is a top priority for this government and today’s figures show that the system continues to work. The vast majority of pupils were offered a place at their first choice school and more than 95 per cent received offers from one of their top three choices.
“Our reforms and our academy programme are raising standards for all children, with 1.4 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. We will continue to invest and work hard to ensure every child has an excellent education that allows them to reach their full potential.”