Around one in six children in England missed out on a place at their top choice of secondary school this year, government figures show. This equates to tens of thousands of failed applications, with half of children in some London boroughs missing out as councils scramble to provide enough places to meet growing demand.
Government figures show that they received 548,006 applications this year, a growth of 2.8% (533,310) compared to 2015. Local authorities reported increases in demand for places as the spike in the birth rate, which has been putting pressure on the primary sector, began to take its toll on secondary schools.
Altogether, 84.1 per cent of 11-year-olds across England and Wales were given a spot at their first preference, compared with 84.2 per cent in 2015.
These figures show that almost one in eight did not receive their first preference.
The situation was at its worst in various London Boroughs, particularly Hammersmith and Fulham, in which 48% failed to get into their first choice; Westminster, 44%; and Lambeth, 42%.
Although 94% of approximately 81,000 pupils in London received a place at one of their six preferred schools, around 4,850 children did not get an offer from any of their choices.
The government says it invested £5bn during the last parliament to help create half a million new school places, with a further £7bn set aside to create more places over the next six years.