Despite an unprecedented number of secondary school place applications for the 2022/2023 school year, Wokingham Borough Council has offered 93.76 per cent of applicants one of their four preferred schools, with 76.26 per cent receiving their top choice.
This year’s offers compare favourably with last year, when 93.51 per cent received a place at one of their preferred schools, and 71.12 per cent got their top choice despite the total number of places allocated this year being 2,468, up from 2,320 in 2021.
The council was expecting an increase in applications this year and worked with secondary schools in the borough to expand the number of places to accommodate the higher number of pupils. The council successfully negotiated with Piggott, Emmbrook and St Crispin’s schools to increase the total number of places available in the borough by 176.
Despite this success, there is still a shortfall in places within Wokingham borough. The council is continuing to address this and aims to add additional places in the coming weeks. Due to the shortfall, a number of applicants have not been offered one of their preferred places.
Although the council is working to increase the number of places, it is encouraging affected families to accept their offers as they will continue to be on the waiting list for their preferred schools.
Cllr Graham Howe, executive member for children’s services, said: “We are delighted to be offering so many of our young people a place at a school of their choosing, despite seeing an increase of about 6.5 per cent in allocations.
“Wokingham borough has such good schools, which means we are a magnet for families with school-aged children. We’re facing a bumper year – more young people in our borough will be starting secondary school this September than in 2021.
“Nine out of the 10 secondary schools in the borough are academies, which means of course that we don’t control their admission policies. They set their own policies, are funded directly by the Department of Education, and operate under their own academy trusts.
“We’ve been working hard with schools across the borough to address the short- and long-term capacity challenges we face to increase the number of places available to accommodate all of them.
“While we are negotiating with schools to increase places, we are urging parents to accept the offer they have received. This will not penalise your place on a waiting list for a preferred school, so it really is the best thing to do.
“We know it isn’t ideal, which is why we will continue working so hard on this. We want to be able to offer every young person a school of their choice, but this year is proving to be a challenge. We expect to have additional places to announce soon.”
Further information is available on the council’s website at www.wokingham.gov.uk by searching for ‘secondary school admissions’. Parents can also contact the council by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.