Parents must be realistic about school choices, says Bradford education boss

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

WHEN schools in Bradford re-open next month, more than 400 children will not be attending one of their top five choices.

Newly released figures show that while the vast majority of families have been given one of their top three selections for primary and secondary schools, in some areas dozens of children are missing out on any of their top five picks.

Bradford Council says the number of families getting a top choice school is increasing, but there are still changes that need making to reduce the number of disappointed pupils in certain areas.

The numbers were released after Manningham councillor Ishtiaq Ahmed (Bradford Independent Group) asked for a ward-by-ward breakdown of how many pupils got their top choices.

The local authority asks parents to provide five choices when applying for a place for their child.

When it came to primary school allocations, 6,759 of the 7,803 children starting in September will be doing so at their first choice primary school; 513 will be at their second choice, 199 at their third choice, 71 at their fourth and 35 at their fifth. There are 221 children who did not get a place at any of the schools they listed.

In secondary schools, 5,427 of the 6,816 children starting year seven got into their first choice; 706 won their second choice; 302 will study at their third choice; 123 at their fourth and 48 their fifth - 203 will have to attend a school they had not selected.

In Eccleshill, 22 of the 338 school starters - or 6.5 per cent - will not be attending a primary school from their top five choices - making it the worst ward for children not getting their preferred school.

For secondary schools, Toller is the worst ward for children missing out on one of their choices, with 27 out of 354 pupils - or 7.6 per cent - moving to year seven not getting into one of their chosen schools.

In Worth Valley every family got into one of their top three choice primary schools.

At secondary level, every child in Wyke, Keighley West and Craven got into their top three choices.

Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council's Executive member for children's services, said the Council was working towards making sure every child got into one of their top choice schools, but that it required parents to make realistic choices.

He added: "We are working with schools to get a clearer message out into the community about preferences. There are a few areas that are hot spots for people putting down completely unachievable.

"We had a problem with people putting only one preference down, and sometimes they put preferences nowhere near where they live. People need to give preferences of schools they are okay with, otherwise they might get somewhere they are not.

"If you are in Little Horton and you put Bingley Grammar or Ilkley Grammar as a choice you're not likely to get it. Schools need to talk to parents about the best way to make their choices."

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