Primary school applications fall ‘amid turbulence of the pandemic’

Sophia Sleigh
·2-min read
<p>London boroughs are now expecting more late applications</p> (Matt Writtle)

London boroughs are now expecting more late applications

(Matt Writtle)

London primary schools saw a seven per cent drop in applications this year due to the “turbulence” caused by coronavirus, the Evening Standard can reveal.

A total of 90,807 families were finding out via email or text today which primary school their children will go to in September. However, experts said the impact of the pandemic may have contributed to more than 6,500 fewer applications this year compared with 2020.

London boroughs are now expecting more late applications after some parents forgot to apply on time. Many were not accessing nursery care where they would usually have had reminders about the deadline.

The numbers may also have been affected by families moving out of urban areas, the decreasing birth rate and the impact of Brexit, according to the Pan London Admissions Board which co-ordinates the process.

It said the “turbulence” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic “may have led to families missing the application deadline” so they will need to make a late application.

The board added that there were enough school places for all of London’s children but parents should apply as soon as possible. Spokesman Martin Pratt said each London borough had its own admissions team ready to help parents. He added: “The significant reduction in total applications is due to a range of reasons, including short and long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Boroughs are supporting schools to deal with this challenge and ensure school places continue to be available where there is demand.”

This year 87 per cent of the total number of London applicants secured a place at their first preference school, a two per cent increase compared with last year.

However, 11,464 pupils will start in September at a school that was not their first choice and that includes 1,955 children who failed to get a place in any of their chosen six. The board said families that had not had an offer of a place should know there were still places available and an offer would be on its way.

The success rate was again lowest in Kensington and Chelsea where more than 30 per cent of children failed to get into their first choice. In Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham and Islington less than 80 per cent of children were allocated their preferred schools.

Meanwhile, Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Hackney, Hillingdon, Newham and Richmond all fared best with more than 90 per cent of children getting their favoured places.

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