Sheffield winning in schools drive to cater for baby boom

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Measures to tackle demand on primary places in Sheffield are paying off, education bosses in the city have said - as figures reveal more parents will be sending children to one of their preferred schools this year.

Admissions statistics show over 97 per cent of children have been allocated one of their three preferences for this September, up nearly two per cent from last year.

Sheffield has seen a surge in demand for primary school places in recent years, largely driven by an increase in the birth rate.

As part of a drive to deal with the pressure on admissions, the city council has expanded existing primaries - including Hallam and Greystones - and laid plans to open new schools.

The authority says this has provided 195 extra reception places for September.

However, proposals to expand Dobcroft Infants and Juniors, proved controversial earlier this year. An additional 30 places will still be created at Dobcroft for the 2015/16 intake, but plans to make the measure permanent have been put on hold while the council explores other options.

Concerns were raised over the potential for overcrowding, and opponents to the plan proposed an expansion plan at Ecclesall Infants instead.

Jayne Ludlam, the council’s executive director of children, young people and families, said: “Over the last few years we have been dealing with an unprecedented baby boom here in the city, which has placed enormous pressure on our local school places. However, we are aware of the issues and have been working hard to combat this pressure.

“Parents told us this is what they wanted after pupils missed out on catchment places last year. We have listened and we have acted on this. We hope more parents than ever before will this year be left satisfied with the choices they have been given.”

In total, 5,583 children - more than 89 per cent - had their first choice met, compared with 87 per cent last year. Just over six per cent - 380 pupils - were offered their second preference, with one per cent or 76 children given their third choice.

Just under three per cent - 186 pupils - had no preferences met. These children will be allocated to an alternative school, which will be their catchment school if they had not applied for it and there were still places, or the nearest school with places available.

Overall 95.8 per cent of pupils were allocated one of their three preferences last year.