The Northern Agenda

The North in Numbers: oversubscribed schools in the North

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Episode notes

The North in Numbers - the podcast that gets the human stories behind the statistics - is taking over The Northern Agenda this week.

It’s that time of year again - kids are back in the classroom, and applications for next year’s school places are opening. It can be a fraught time for many parents, with the quality of education, location of the school and a child’s friendship group all needing to be taken into consideration - and competition for secondary school places has become particularly fierce. 

The latest figures from the Department for Education reveal that the problem of oversubscription - where more people put a school down as their first choice than are offered a place - is getting worse.

Nearly two in three secondary schools across the north were oversubscribed this year - the highest proportion since these figures began in 2014/15, and up from closer to half at that time. In one school in the region, fewer than one in every five first-choice applicants were offered a place.  

Many of these parents will have ended up sending their child to their second or third choice of secondary. However, nearly 7,000 kids across the north didn’t get into any of their preferred schools last year - the highest number on record.

Annie Gouk, a data journalist who writes local news stories based on statistics for regional papers up and down the country, investigates how this impacting families and schools across the North.

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