ONE in seven Bracknell Forest pupils missed out on gaining a place at their first-choice primary school, new figures show.

School leaders’ union the National Association of Headteachers says the anxiety for parents over not securing their preferred school this year will "only be heightened" by fear and uncertainty felt during the coronavirus pandemic.

Department for Education figures show that 86.2per cent of children starting primary school in Bracknell Forest this September received an offer from their first-choice school – down from 92.5per cent last year.

It means 196 families missed out on their top pick, as the number of applications to primary schools in the area rose by 2per cent to 1,419.

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The picture in Bracknell Forest reflected that across England, where 90.2per cent of Reception starters received an offer from their first-choice school, falling from 90.6per cent last year.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said there is concern around a variation in rates between different areas of the country.

“It is a complex issue because it is associated with high demand for popular schools, but it means many families are left disappointed, and this issue does need to be addressed," he said.

Meanwhile, the proportion of pupils securing a place at their first-choice secondary school in Bracknell Forest fell from 82.3per cent last year to 80.8per cent this year.

That was higher than the national rate, which increased from 80.9per cent to 82.2per cent over the same period.

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School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “The vast majority of parents have again received an offer from one of their top three preferences of primary or secondary school for the next academic year.

“We will be supporting primary schools that have capacity to bring back more children – with reduced class sizes of 15 – to do so if they can before the summer holidays, and we will be working with the sector to bring all children back to school in September."