The London boroughs where children are most likely to get into their first choice school

Two girls waiting behind their friends to get off school bus education transport generic
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

More children in Waltham Forest got into their first-choice school this year than in any other London borough, new figures show. The figures come during an intense debate about the future of school places, following the Labour Party's plans to remove the VAT exemption on private schools.

In Waltham Forest, 6,057 applications were submitted for places in primary and secondary schools for the upcoming academic year. Of these, 85 per cent received their first preference – a slight rise on last year, when 83 per cent were successful.

Across England 83 per cent of secondary and 93 per cent of primary pupils got into the school they wanted, a minor improvement on last year. If elected, Labour intends to abolish private schools' charitable status, which the Conservatives have warned would force them to increase fees, prompting fears state schools would be overwhelmed by former private school pupils.

READ MORE: 'My son hasn't been to school in over 2 years - I'm at my wits' end over ongoing dispute'

Labour leader Keir Starmer visits Whitland, Carmarthenshire, Wales on the last day before the general election 2024.
The Labour party wants to remove VAT exemptions on private schools -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne

Analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests this is unlikely to happen due to declining class sizes and a fall in the birth rate. The IFS estimates adding VAT to private school fees could cause a 3 to 7 per cent reduction in private school attendance – about 17,000 to 40,000 children.

However, state school pupil numbers across England are due to decline by an expected drop of more than 625,000 between 2023 and 2030 – only slightly below the total number of private school pupils.

Pepe Di’Iasio, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "It’s great to see that more parents are getting their first-place preferences, and this is likely to be a national trend we’ll see in future years too as the number of school pupils continues to fall because of a decline in births. It won’t be evenly spread, however, and there will continue to be pressure on places in some schools because of local factors."

He said it is "difficult to know" how the proposed VAT levy would affect school places, and a future Labour government should conduct "careful modelling" before doing so. He added: "There is a wider implication for the state sector because falling rolls equate to less money as funding is allocated on a per-pupil basis."

He continued: "This means that many schools will have to make cuts and that is why we are calling on politicians to commit to increasing the funding rates rather than taking this as a saving for the Treasury." The figures showed 65,447 pupils across England were offered a place in a different local authority to where they lived – this included 493 pupils in Waltham Forest.

The London boroughs where over 80 per cent of children got into their first choice school

  • Waltham Forest - 85 per cent

  • Enfield - 84 per cent

  • Hackney, Havering and Hillingdon - 83 per cent

  • Tower Hamlets - 82 per cent

  • Ealing, Haringey and Sutton - 81 per cent

  • Southwark - 80 per cent

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