More than five per cent of Bracknell’s children attend primary schools that are not in Bracknell Forest.

This is the highest figure among Bracknell’s ten ‘statistical neighbours’, which are local authorities which have similar characteristics with the council, but are not necessarily geographically close to the authority.

At a meeting where these figures were discussed on Wednesday (January 9), Labour councillor Mary Temperton said: “If you have children living in this local authority, they should attend schools in this local authority.

“To me, this is not good news, this is bad news.”

Rachel Morgan, assistant director of education and learning at Bracknell Forest Council (BFC), echoed Cllr Temperton’s views.

She said: “It is bad news and I think one of the reasons is because we have Wokingham on our doorstep.”

However, Cllr Dr Gareth Barnard, executive member for children, young people and learning at BFC, explained to councillors that when parents list their selections for their children’s desired school, that it is a “preference, not a choice.”

He continued: “If we want the majority of our children to be educated in our schools, we need to press on with what we are doing. Most of our schools are (rated) Good or Outstanding.

“We are a small authority but a school in a different authority could be closer to you. Neighbouring authorities have had school places left over.

“In this case, there was a statistical issue but we have invested £1m into growing schools.”

Councillor Temperton also pointed out that there was a gulf between the proportion of special educational needs (SEN) children receiving education, health and care plans at primary school and at secondary school.

While the council ranks second best among its statistical neighbours for providing these plans for secondary school students, it ranks tenth for its provision of the plans for its primary school children.

Rachel Morgan said the difference between these two rankings was partly because of an ongoing restructuring of the council’s SEN team.

She added: “We have got all the evidence we need to make sure that the child gets a health and care plan.”

These figures come from an October 2018 Making Information Matter (Mime) report, which presents key statistics sourced from the government relating to Bracknell’s schools, children and young people.

Other key figures showed Bracknell had the second lowest number of children excluded from primary schools among its statistical neighbours (2.1 per cent), but also ranked highest for the proportion of absences recorded at said schools (2.7 per cent).

Key stage one children rank in the top two of Bracknell’s neighbours for meeting expected phonics, writing and maths standards, but provisional figures for key stage two children in the borough show 63 per cent achieve expected standards in reading, writing and maths – representing the eighth-place score.

Nine per cent of key stage five young adults went on to gain apprenticeships in Bracknell, the highest figure among the council’s statistical neighbours.

However, 42 per cent of this demographic went on to higher education – the ninth highest from Bracknell’s neighbours.

Councillors discussed these figures at a meeting of the Children, Young People & Learning Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Wednesday, January 9.