Borough top of the class for first choice schools

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Wigan is top of the class for getting pupils into their first-choice secondary school as thousands of young people learned where they will be learning in September.

A total of 95.2 per cent of primary school leavers in the borough were offered places at their preferred high school, which is thought to be the highest percentage in Greater Manchester.

As thousands of young Wiganers discovered which secondary school they will be studying at, 251 parents across the borough were left disappointed, according to research carried out by the New Schools Network .

Only Bury and Rochdale among the region’s 10 local authorities had fewer parents whose offspring did not get their first choice of school, with 221 and 234 missing out respectively.

Wigan Council hailed its figure for first choice offers, which were an improvement on last year’s results which saw 92.7 per cent of year six pupils offered a place at their first choice high school.

Coun Jo Platt, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We are pleased that more young people in Wigan borough are starting year seven in their preferred high school this year.

“We have a good track record of helping children get into the school of their choice and we recognise how important it is to make sure they are in the right environment during these important academic years.”

In total 99.5 per cent of all applications to study at the borough’s secondary schools received a place at one of the shortlisted establishments on their list.

This was also an improvement on the previous year’s figure of 98.7 per cent.

Despite the good news locally schools across the country are struggling to keep up with demand for places, with tens of thousands of young people likely to continue their education at their second or third-choice high school in September.

Last year around one in six pupils nationwide did not get a spot at their first choice of secondary school.

Primary schools have been struggling to find enough places due to a rising population for several years and it is feared this is now affecting secondary education.

The picture across the North West as a whole is also somewhat gloomy, with the percentage of parents who received their first choice of school for their offspring declining from 90.5 per cent in 2013 to 86.5 per cent last year.

Town hall bosses are now demanding councils are given more powers, with the Local Government Association asking for authorities to able to open new secondary schools or force academies to expand.

However, the Government said £5bn was pumped into creating school places during the last parliament and a further £7bn had been committed over the next six years.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We want every parent to be able to send their children to a good local school. Despite rising pupil numbers the vast majority of parents are able to do so.

“The Government is investing billions of pounds creating new schools and new school places and through our free schools programme we want to open 500 more new schools during the five years of this parliament.”