Nine out of 10 Hartlepool kids get first-choice school place

PRIMARY PLACES ... Nine out of 10 children will go to their parents' first-choice school.

PRIMARY PLACES ... Nine out of 10 children will go to their parents' first-choice school.

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MORE than 90 per cent of children in Hartlepool were given places in their first choice primary schools.

Hartlepool Borough Council provided places to 1,082 youngsters at primary schools that were listed by their families as their favoured choice.

The figure accounted for 91.23 per cent of all applications it received for youngsters entering primary school education in the town.

There were 45 youngsters, which accounts for 3.79 per cent, who were given second choice places, 14, or 1.19 per cent, were given third place picks, and 45 children, which is 3.79 per cent, were allocated places that did not appear in any of their top three preferences.

Durham County Council, which is responsible for education in East Durham, allocated first choice places to 93.05 per cent of applications.

Early indications on what has been dubbed National Offer Day suggest wide differences around the country, with up to one in six missing out on their first preference in some areas, compared with almost all getting their number one choice in others.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “We have been able to offer the large majority of parents who have children entering primary school in September their first preference.

“Starting primary school is a very important time in a child’s life and as a council we work very hard and always do our best to meet the wishes of parents and in the vast majority of cases we achieve this.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said this is a challenging time for both families and schools.

“Since 2011, the powers of local authorities in planning school places have been significantly reduced without an alternative system to take their place,” he said.

“We have a Balkanised system, with authorities, academies and central government taking decisions in isolation.”

Mr Hobby added: “There is a desperate need for long-term planning that spans all sectors. With the massive increase in pupil numbers and overstretched budgets, we cannot afford inefficiency and conflict.

“Until some agency at the local or regional level has the information and the authority to prioritise school places where they are most needed, parents and children will always be unsure that the system will give them what they want.”