UK & World News
Thousands Miss Out On First Choice School
Thousands of children have missed out on their parents' preferred primary school place in the first National Offer Day.
Emails and letters have been sent to parents across England but increasing pressures on schools mean many have been left disappointed.
Education hotspots Bristol and London are expected to be among the worst affected, with one in five children not being admitted to their school of choice.
"There is a shortage of primary school places throughout the country," said Lydia Gibbs, primary teaching and curriculum lead for the Reach Academy in Feltham, west London.
Last year the school had 160 applications for only 60 primary school places.
"There is a sense of competition that parents would love to have their children come to our school. I know that because we were oversubscribed for reception places," she added.
Bristol Cathedral School received 4,000 applicants for 40 places.
National Offer Day marks the first time councils across England have co-ordinated offers for primary school places.
Demand is believed to be increasing due to higher birth rates and immigration, with the number of children entering reception classes at primary schools this September among the highest in years.
According to the Local Government Association some areas - Costessey in Norfolk, Central Croydon and Purfleet in Essex - will see 75% more pupils than school places by next year.
By 2016, councils across England will have to increase school capacity by at least 20% to ensure every child gets a school place.
Parents are now going to greater lengths to secure places at the most popular schools.
A poll by Netmums revealed more than a fifth of those questioned (21.2%) had bought a house closer to their preferred school, with a further 17% renting nearby.
Nearly half had put their children in a nursery linked to a school in an attempt to get their children a place, despite warnings from the schools adjudicator that children should not miss out because the did not attend the right nursery.
The survey also found around one in six (16.2%) parents had started thinking about primary schools when their child was still under one, with a further 9.3% considering it when they were expecting and 6.9% thinking about the issue before they fell pregnant.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said more needs to be done to ensure every child has a school place.