Best London primary and secondary schools that are the hardest to get into

Primary school offer day is upon us, with parents of three and four-year-olds eagerly waiting to find out of their children got into their first choice school.

Across the UK, around 92.5 per cent of families received an offer from their first choice in 2023, and 98.3 per cent received an offer from one of their top three choices, according to government data.

However, there are many schools in London and the rest of the country that are oversubscribed, with the most competitive primary school only accepting around a quarter of applicants.

Al-Noor Voluntary Aided Muslim Primary School in Ilford was the most difficult primary school to get into in England - 217 parents put it as their first choice for this year, but only 58 were offered a place.

Also making it into the top three most oversubscribed primaries were Liverpool College (277 first choices to 81 offers) and Fox Primary School in Kensington and Chelsea, London (175 to 58).

READ MORE: The best Ofsted-rated primary school in every London borough and when they were last inspected

Use our interactive widget below to see how oversubscribed the schools are in your area:

Meanwhile, Seven Kings School in Ilford was the second most difficult secondary to get into in the country. As an all-through school covering ages four to 19, most of the children going into Year 7 will be carrying on from Year 6, making offers for a new place particularly competitive.

Just 50 of the 332 parents who put it down as a first choice for Year 7 received an offer for a place this year. This is just 15 per cent of applicants.

In the UK ranking, it was followed by Wallington County Grammar School in Sutton, where only 31 of the 184 parents who picked it as their preferred school were offered a place - despite it being 11 to 18 only.

The figures reveal that two in every three secondaries in England were oversubscribed this year - with 66 per cent seeing more parents putting them down as a first choice than were offered a place.

That’s the highest proportion since these figures began in 2014/15, and up from 57 per cent at that time.

Baby boom 11 years ago puts pressure on secondary schools

Secondary schools are more competitive than primary -Credit:Getty
Secondary schools are more competitive than primary -Credit:Getty

In comparison, primary schools are much easier to get into, with fewer than one in three oversubscribed this year - down from nearly half of primaries nine years ago.

Part of the reason oversubscription is getting worse in secondary schools is that there are simply more children entering high school now, thanks to a baby boom 11 years ago.

Meanwhile, primary schools are likely becoming less competitive due to a drop in births seen from 2016 onwards.

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “There is extra pressure on secondary admissions as the pupil population bulge that has been moving through primary schools is currently hitting secondary schools. Many schools are particularly oversubscribed, especially in certain areas of the country.

“Until the government creates a national strategy to guarantee there are enough school places for every child in England, the annual anxious wait for families will continue.”

The Department for Education said: “The vast majority of families will be offered a place at one of their preferred schools and most will be offered their top place. We have already created over one million school places in the last decade - the largest increase in school capacity for at least two generations.”