More than 28, 000 London children will miss out on their first choice of secondary school this year, education experts have predicted.
It means that record numbers of 11-year-olds will start in September at schools that are not their top preference, according to the Good Schools Guide, which warned that there were not enough secondary schools in London to cope with the number of children needing places this autumn.
Last year, around 27, 000 children were not given a place at their preferred secondary school, and the Guide has calculated that this year’s figure will rise by roughly 1, 000. Families will be told what school their child has been allocated on national offer day next Tuesday and children in London are expected to be the least likely in the country to get a place at their preferred school.
Susan Hamlyn, director of The Good Schools Guide’s Advice Service, said: “There needs to be a plan so that we have enough schools, enough places and enough teachers in every borough. A number of schools that were guaranteed to London for 2016 still haven’t opened their doors — some haven’t even found a site to build on.”
Already, a number of schools have dropped plans to open this September, including North Twyford C of E High School in Ealing and Trinity High School in Merton.
A London Councils spokeswoman said: “It is important to recognise that not all parents and pupils can be offered their first preference, because there is simply not an unlimited number of places in London’s schools.
“Demand is growing, as we are beginning to see the pressure on primary schools transfer to secondary.” Children applying for secondary school can choose up to six schools in order of preference.
Official application figures will be published on Tuesday, but the Good Schools Guide estimated that they had risen by at least three per cent, meaning more than 85, 000 children have applied for a secondary school place.
But the Guide said that the number of places being created had not kept pace with the rise in the number of pupils.
Ms Hamlyn added: “We look for evidence that the Government is doing the obvious sums. Take the number of school places away from the number of children due to hear about their place and you will be left with a number of children who have nowhere to go.”
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