Large majority of Oxfordshire parents and children offered first choice secondary for 19/20 despite exceptional demand
Parents and children across Oxfordshire have been offered their first choice of secondary school for 2019/20 in the vast majority of cases despite an exceptional year for applications and disruption caused by delays in being able to confirm the opening of the Swan School in Oxford.
Almost 86 per cent of applications have been awarded their first choice – a figure that has the potential to rise further if the Swan School is able to open its doors in September. A total of 94 per cent have been awarded one of the three choices they listed on their application.
Approximately 400 more applications have been received for secondary schools this year compared to last year – making the total of applications 7,300.
Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Cultural Services, said: “Our school admissions team have done an excellent job in ensuring that so many parents and children have been offered their first choice despite this being an exceptionally difficult year. I am grateful to them for the hard work they’ve done."
Exceptional year for school applications
A number of schools have expanded where necessary in anticipation but this was always likely to be a year of exceptionally high demand for Year 7 places – the delays in the opening of the Swan School in Oxford have compounded this.
If it can open in September, the proposed Swan School would offer 120 Year 7 places required to meet basic need for places in Oxford this year. It will not be confirmed whether Central Government has cleared the school to open until late March/early April at the earliest.
New schools and expansions in recent years
Since 2011 more than 6,000 new places have been created in Oxfordshire secondary schools – excluding extra capacity that will be created at the Swan School.
Further planned changes in the 2020s – including the new Whitelands Academy in Bicester and a new all-through school at Grove Airfield – will see the overall number of school places created since 2011 rise to around 8,000.
Entirely new schools have been created at:
- Space Studio, Banbury
- Bicester Technology Studio
- Heyford Park Free School
- Aureus School, Didcot
- UTC Oxfordshire, Harwell near Didcot
- Europa School, Culham
School expansions or additional classes have been added/taken place at:
- The Warriner School
- The Bicester School
- Burford School
- Matthew Arnold School
- Bartholomew School
- Faringdon Community College
- The Cherwell School
- Cheney School Academy Trust
- Oxford Spires Academy Trust
- Lord Williams School
- Wallingford School
- King Alfred’s
- Icknield Community College
- Wood Green School
More on the Swan School
Places must be allocated to applicants for places at this school pending confirmation it will open in September. This is governed by the Schools Admissions Code and the council has to comply with this statutory requirement. So there are two admissions processes.
The Swan School has employed the council to oversee this process for them so the officers do have visibility of all applications for places. A continued interest list will be opened for unsuccessful applicants.
All Swan School applicants have been advised to apply for a place in an existing school and to accept the place offered in both processes to ensure they have a guaranteed Year 7 place in September. Swan School applicants receive two letters if they have done this
A total of 243 places will initially be held in existing schools pending confirmation of whether Swan School will open this year. Revised offers if applicable will be issued on second offer day on May 8.
Oxfordshire parents get their first choice more than parents elsewhere
Oxfordshire’s 86 per cent compares with national averages for first choice offers in recent years are as follows:
84.2 per cent
84.1 per cent
83.5 per cent
82.1 per cent
Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Cultural Services, said: “Although the 2019/20 national average will not be published for a few months we are very likely to be ahead of that yet once more in Oxfordshire – as we have been in all previous years. Our aim as a council is to give every child a good start in life and our school admissions team play their part in that year in, year out.
“We are grateful to those secondary schools who have agreed to increase their admission number this year as an exceptional measure to make sure all Oxfordshire children have been allocated places in schools this September even if Swan School were not to open.”
The total of first choice applications for 2018/19 was just under 89 per cent.
Councillor Lindsay-Gale added: “To have had such a small drop in first choice offers in the circumstances is remarkable. We have planned ahead meticulously for the extra numbers this year with school expansions. The delays in central government being able to confirm the Swan School’s opening did present us with a problem we could have done without. However we are working around that and hope for good news from central Government later in the Spring, now that the necessary planning permissions are in place.”