MORE than four in five pupils in the Dudley borough were admitted to their first-choice secondary school, new figures show.

Department for Education figures show 3,853 children applied for a place at a secondary school in Dudley for the 2023-24 academic year.

Of them, 3,260 (84.6 per cent) were admitted to their first choice, while 3,707 (96.2 per cent) received a place from at least one school in their top six choices.

Areas that allow children to select more than three preferred schools generally have a lower first-choice acceptance rate as parents tend to be a little more speculative with their applications.

Nationally, 82.6 per cent of secondary school applicants received an offer from their first choice for 2023-24 – down from 83.3 per cent the year before – while the proportion securing a place from any of their favoured schools fell slightly from 95.8 per cent in 2022-23 to 95.6 per cent.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, said the slight fall in pupils receiving their first offer could be due to the rising number of applications – some 619,991 pupils applied for a secondary school place for 2023-24, the highest number since records began in 2014-15.

In Dudley, the total number of applications rose as well. Meanwhile, the proportion of children receiving their first choice decreased, as would be expected.

Mr Barton said: "The rising number of secondary-age pupils is putting additional pressure on places, particularly in schools located within affluent areas that have an outstanding or good Ofsted rating.

"Conversely, there are other schools in more challenging circumstances in other areas that are stigmatised by negative Ofsted ratings and are struggling to recruit pupils to fill their place numbers.

"It is an absolutely ridiculous situation, and the Government should focus more on investing the money and support that is needed to ensure every community has good school places on their doorstep."

Meanwhile, a record number of primary-aged pupils across the country received a place at their preferred school for 2023-24 – some 92.5 per cent were offered their first choice, up from 92.2 per cent in 2022-23 and the highest figure since 2014-15.

However, there was also a record low number of applications, with just 568,560 children fighting for the school places.

In Dudley, 3,158 of 3,451 children (91.5 per cent) secured a place at their first preference.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: "It is great to know that up and down the country families are able to make the right choice for their child, enrolling them in a school and environment that they feel will best support their child to learn and develop."

He said the figures "attest to the Government’s priority in providing good quality school places, which will ensure every child has the opportunity to meet their potential".