Demand remains high for secondary school places

THE Downend area’s schools are among the most oversubscribed in South Gloucestershire, new figures show.

The council says a total of 2,833 first-choice applications were made for places at schools in the district from September.

Downend School received 325 first-choice applications for its 210 advertised places, the most to any school.

It had a total of 683 applications when second and third preferences were taken into account, second only to Winterbourne Academy, which had 760 for 300 places.

As a result, Downend School is providing an extra class to take its total number of Year 7 places to 240 this year. However last year the school had two extra “breach” classes and a total of 270 admissions, so this year’s Year 7 will have 30 fewer pupils.

As places were confirmed in March, it was revealed that 94 places at Downend went to children with siblings at the school, four to children in care and seven to children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) naming the school.

The other 135 went to children living within around three quarters of a mile (1.2km) of the school.

Of those offered places, 231 had made Downend their first choice: only eight second and one third choice application received offers.

At Mangotsfield School, a total of 545 families applied for a place – 226 of them first preferences.

The school initially had 240 places on offer but has agreed to raise its admission number to 270, offering 200 places to first preference, 54 to second and 16 to third choice applicants.

Of those, 67 are siblings of current pupils, three are children in care or with an EHCP, 34 in the school’s “area of first responsibility” and 166 living within 1.3 miles (2.1km) of the school.

Winterbourne Academy offered places to 254 of its 304 first-preference applicants, 30 to second choice and 16 to third choice.

The furthest from the school that an applicant who was a non-sibling, child in care or with an EHCP lived was just under two-and-a-half miles.

South Gloucestershire Council said that in total, 83% of children were offered places at their family’s first choice school, down from 86% last year.

A total of 192 children were offered places at schools their families had not applied for, including 71 at King’s Oak Academy in Kingswood and 27 at John Cabot academy, which was once an oversubscribed school.

King’s Oak is providing an extra class as the council deals with the effects of delays in the construction of a new 900-place school at Lyde Green, which was originally supposed to open in 2022 but is not expected to be ready until 2026, with building work yet to begin.

Council co-leader and cabinet member for schools Ian Boulton said: “There is clearly a limit to the number of additional places other schools can offer, however we will be in an even better position to meet the preferences of local families when the delayed new secondary school for Lyde Green is finally open.”