Families facing worry due to ‘disjointed school system’ on National Offer Day, says NAHT

Today (16 April) is National Primary School Offer Day, and parents across the country have been finding out which schools their children have been allocated to in September. 

The government said they want parents to feel reassured when it comes to getting one of their top primary school choices that 92.5% of families received an offer from their first choice in 2023.

However, school leaders’ union NAHT said that without a national strategy from the government, families will continue to face worry on this day.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “Choosing a school is a significant milestone for families. It’s a pivotal moment in a child’s life. While many parents will be happy to have found out that they have got their first choice, sadly, that won’t be the case for all.

“It remains the case that our disjointed school system continues to cause issues when it comes to school places.

“Local authorities are tasked with ensuring enough school places, but they don’t have the necessary powers commensurate with that responsibility.

“The result is an incoherent planning process where tight budgets are wasted, and decisions are made in silos, with new schools established in places where they aren’t so urgently needed.

“Until the government steps in with a national strategy to ensure there are appropriate places for every child, families will face worry, and an unfair postcode lottery.”

Decisions are sent by the local council by letter or email, and some councils allow parents to view their results through the admissions portal or system.

All schools have admission criteria to decide which children get places, and this criteria is set by the schools themselves or the local council.

The government said that while all state-funds schools must give top priority to admitting children who are in care or have been in care, admission criteria is different for each school.

Some criteria may include students who:

– Live close to the school

– Have a sibling at the school already

– Are from a particular religion (for faith schools)

– Are eligible for the pupil premium

Parents can appeal if they are not offered their first-choice decision for a primary school, but are recommended by the government to accept an offer their child did receive so they have a school place if the appeal is unsuccessful.

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