Schools keeping up with boom

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SHEFFIELD’S primaries are coping successfully with a city-wide baby boom – with an increased number of children getting places at their first- choice school in September.

Figures show 92 per cent of youngsters have won a place at their preferred primary, up from 91 per cent last year.

That’s despite a rising school population which has seen education chiefs order the expansion of 11 primaries around the city, creating an extra 255 places for the academic year 2011-12.

The programme cost £14 million and was funded from Government coffers – with a further £5 million already earmarked to create a 300 places in secondary schools.

More than 6,100 families have received letters this week detailing whether their applications for their chosen primaries have been accepted.Of those, around 120 have not been given a place at any of their three preferred schools.

The number of children reaching school age has risen sharply over the past six years, up from 5,200 in 2005.

Fewer children are getting into their preferred primaries than in the secondary sector, where 94 per cent of pupils were successful in obtaining a place at their first-choice school, up from 90 per cent.

The squeeze on places in primary schools in recent years has been eased thanks to the expansion programme.

Schools included were Walkley, Westways, Mundella, Carfield, Abbey Lane, Low Edges, Longley, Mosborough, Nether Edge, Greystones and Lowfield.

That work built on previous schemes which provided extra places in population hot spots such as Pitsmoor, Burngreave and Fir Vale.

Council admissions officer John Bigley said: “This expansion programme has undoubtedly helped in terms of being able to offer children places in their local primary schools. It shows we are standing up for Sheffield children.

“We always try our utmost to make sure children are able to access their catchment schools. But unprecedented baby booms, like seen in some parts of the city, can sometimes make things tricky.”

Parents not given their first-choice school can still appeal over the next few weeks, while other primaries have a waiting list if some families change their plans.