Fewer get a first choice secondary school place

DELIGHTED: Pam Cameron and her daughter Chauni, 11, who got into first choice secondary, Heyford Free School, after the family moved house

DELIGHTED: Pam Cameron and her daughter Chauni, 11, who got into first choice secondary, Heyford Free School, after the family moved house Buy this photo

First published in News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

MORE pupils have failed to get in to the secondary school of their choice for the next school year, new figures show.

Oxfordshire County Council had to deal with 337 more applications for places in September than it did in 2013.

And it meant that 573 pupils failed to get into their first-choice school.

However, 5,634 of 6,207 applications, or nine out of 10, successfully got their first choice. The 90.8 per cent success rate was a drop from the past two years.

In a county with a number of good schools, some parents feel they have to live near nearby to try to ensure they get the school they want.

Mum-of-two Pam Cameron moved the family from Bure Park in Bicester to the village of Fritwell in the hope it would mean her daughter could get a place at Heyford Hill Free School.

Now she has discovered the move has been a success and her 11-year-old daughter Chauni has got into her first choice of secondary school.

Mrs Cameron, 45, said it was a risk which had paid off.

“I am absolutely delighted,” she said.

“We really agree with the ethos of the free school and it can’t show favouritism, so we were really hopeful of a place.

“If we hadn’t moved then it would have been likely that she would have gone to Bicester Community College but because the school was rated inadequate, I didn’t want her to go there just yet.

“It has made improvements, but I didn’t really want to send her there in September.

“It was a risk to move but I am really pleased she has got into this school.”

In some areas of the UK, almost one in four 11-year-olds missed out on their preferred spot, while in others, virtually all youngsters got their place.

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Last year, Oxfordshire County Council recorded the highest percentage of offerings since 2006 when it managed to give 92.8 per cent of places, and in 2012 it hit 91.5 per cent. It recorded a low of 88.5 per cent in 2010.

Melinda Tilley, the council's cabinet member for children, education and families, said: “The council has consistently had a strong record of ensuring a high percentage of children can attend their first-preference secondary school, and once again it’s good news for the vast majority of families.

“Inevitably, where applications for particular schools exceed available spaces, we can’t offer everyone a place.

“In such circumstances, an appeal process is available to families wishing to challenge the outcome of their application, and details of how to do this have been sent to parents. Children's names can also be placed on continued interest lists in case places become available at schools.”

Comments (4)

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12:56pm Wed 5 Mar 14

King Joke says...

Go back to catchment areas, no argument then.
Go back to catchment areas, no argument then. King Joke
  • Score: 1

4:07pm Wed 5 Mar 14

CupHalfFull says...

And condemn your child to substandard education unless you can afford to move to an area with a better school. ....
And condemn your child to substandard education unless you can afford to move to an area with a better school. .... CupHalfFull
  • Score: 0

4:09pm Wed 5 Mar 14

King Joke says...

With no 'competition' for places there wouldn't be such wide gaps, perceived or otherwise, between schools, you just go to the school where everyone in your community goes.
With no 'competition' for places there wouldn't be such wide gaps, perceived or otherwise, between schools, you just go to the school where everyone in your community goes. King Joke
  • Score: 0

10:36pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Severian says...

The new head at BCC is rapidly turning the school around, which has to be good news. Hopefully once it comes out of special measures we will have two good schools in Bicester and parents won't have to worry about which school their child goes to.
The new head at BCC is rapidly turning the school around, which has to be good news. Hopefully once it comes out of special measures we will have two good schools in Bicester and parents won't have to worry about which school their child goes to. Severian
  • Score: 0

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