Published: 06:00, 01 March 2022
| Updated: 15:47, 01 March 2022
The number of pupils heading to their first-choice secondary school in Kent from September has risen by nearly 2,000 compared to last year.
Almost eight in every 10 youngsters will today find out they will be starting Year 7 at their preferred choice, Kent County Council (KCC) has revealed.
A total of 14,574 children, or almost 80%, will be offered a place at their number one school – up from 12,736, or 69.7%, in 2021, when the process was impacted by the pandemic.
KCC says more than 95% of pupils will receive an offer from one of their four preferred schools.
Meanwhile, the number of children who were not offered a place at any of their preferred options has increased by five this year to 850. They will be allocated a place by KCC at an alternative school.
Of those, just five applications named the full number of eligible preferred schools on their forms, while 65 failed to pick any school their child was eligible to attend.
A spokesman added: "This makes it very difficult for officers to identify local schools because the law requires all named preferences to be satisfied before allocations can be made, which often leaves local schools full."
In total, 21,889 applications for places – 18,311 from Kent families – were received, 375 fewer than the previous year.
Just over 2,000 children will be offered a place at their second-choice school, while 604 will get an offer for their third choice.
And 194 pupils will get their fourth preference.
This year, 98.66% of applications were made online, and anyone who did so is advised to check their emails from 4pm today and will be able to log into their accounts to see their offer from 5pm.
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Cllr Shellina Prendergast (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “I am delighted to say that more than 95% of pupils will be starting school in September at one of the preferred schools their families selected.
“Unfortunately, there will inevitably be a small percentage of pupils for whom it has proved impossible to offer one of their choices, but I would like to assure their families that today is only the first stage of the allocation process.
"Those who have been allocated a school they did not choose are advised to speak to staff at that school before making a decision as they may well find the school is suitable for their child.
“Throughout the remainder of the application process, KCC staff members are ready to speak to parents and carers to answer any questions they may have as well as offer information, advice and support, so I would urge anyone who is concerned to contact them.”
Cllr Prendergast praised staff in schools and at the council.
“The past year has once again been extremely challenging for pupils and their families and of course school staff," she said.
“I would like to pay tribute to all the teachers and support staff for the effort they have put in to educating our children in very difficult circumstances.
“I would also like to thank the KCC staff who, every year face the demanding task of trying to allocate the most appropriate places at our secondary schools for nearly 20,000 pupils."