Nearly all Rotherham children will start the new school year at the Primary or Junior school of their parents choosing, with an increase in the percentage of children securing their first choice.
The increase is despite performance already being well-above the national average.
Today (16 April) is National Offer Day for children starting Primary School or moving up from Infants to Juniors at the start of the next school year in September 2021.
In Rotherham, the Council has been able to offer 94.4% of parents their first preference place, which is an improvement from 93.9% in 2020. The national average in 2020 was 90.2% (source: Department for Education).
A further 3.7% of parents have been offered their second preference and 0.4% their third preference, meaning 98.5% have been offered one of their first three choices. This is an improvement on the 98.3% last year and higher than the national 97.8% average from last year (source: Department for Education).
Just under 3,000 applications for places were received this year in Rotherham.
For the small number of children who could not be accommodated at their preferred schools, all will be offered a place at either a school in their catchment area or the next nearest school with places available.
Suzanne Joyner, Strategic Director of Children and Young People's Services at Rotherham Council said: “Our priority is to give every child the best start in life and providing access to high quality education as close to home as possible is a vital part of that aim.
“Demand for school places - locally and nationally - remains high. It is a really tough challenge for Councils and schools to ensure the right number of places are provided in the right locations to meet demand and I am proud that we have improved on performance that was already amongst the best in the country. To do this at a time when our services have been impacted so greatly by the Coronavirus pandemic is an outstanding achievement.”
Nathan Health, Assistant Director of Education of Rotherham Council, added: “It is extremely positive that a high proportion of children received their first preference in starting their school for the first time and a significant majority of parents/carers received one of their three school choices for their children. This is a key step on the educational pathway for these children as they start school this September.”
“Through careful planning and close liaison with our local schools, we’ve been able to anticipate demand to create primary education capacity in areas of need as part of our place planning strategy in recent years, including building of two new primary schools at Eastwood and Waverley.”
Any parent whose child has not been offered a place at their preferred school has the right of appeal, with all cases heard by independent appeals panels for a final, legally binding decision.
The Council also maintains a waiting list until 31 December and will work closely with the families involved to ensure that they are supported throughout this process.