Record number fail to get their first-choice school

Over Southwark 1,000 students failed to get a place at their top choice secondary school this week – almost three times the national average - according to figures released this week.

1,168 pupils in the borough were rejected from their first choice of secondary school this year - out of a total of 2,857 applications. It means more than one in three (40.9%) young people lost out on a place at their preferred school – the worst result for years. The average across the country is one in seven students (14%).

The number of pupils rejected by all of their six choices (7.6% or 218 pupils) is also up on last year. Southwark was in the top ten worst London boroughs in this category. Southwark Liberal Democrats have said the new figures highlight the urgent need for more permanent school places in the borough.

Liberal Democrat councillors have been at the forefront of local campaigns for new schools over recent years, including helping to secure funding and land for new academy schools in Dulwich and Bermondsey. The Charter School in East Dulwich will open in September and plans for a new Haberdasher Aske secondary in the old fire station at Borough are progressing after the Department for Education gave the green light.

Southwark Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education & Schools, Councillor James Barber, said:

“Yet again, well over a third of our pupils are missing out on their first choice of school. Southwark is worse than the London average in every single secondary school admissions category.

“Liberal Democrats are fighting the corner of young people who deserve better than being one of an ever-increasing number who lose out. Southwark families deserve a better approach than more and more children being crammed into bigger classes and learning in unsuitable spaces.

“The Labour council needs to stop the school places timebomb and get on with proper planning and finding sites for new schools. Southwark’s population is set to grow and grow in the coming years. The Council can’t just sit on its hands.”