Parents are facing agony and ecstasy over the next few days as secondary school placements are confirmed for thousands of children.

This year’s figures show more pupils gained a place at their first choice school than last year – but hundreds missed out on their top three.

Barnet Council says it has been able to give 70 per cent of children a place at their first choice school, an improvement on last year’s 64 per cent.

But more than 650 children failed to gain a place at any of their top three choices – equating to ten per cent of all those who applied to Barnet Council.

The figures mean one in ten of the 6,510 children whose applications were submitted on time were unable to obtain one of their top-three places.

The percentage is a slight improvement on last year’s figures, which showed 13 per cent of children in the same situation.

Education portfolio holder, Councillor Andrew Harper, said: “We’re trying to get as many as possible in to their first choice. I’m pleased the number has improved on last year and we want to keep up the pressure to make sure it continues.

“I agree it can be devastating for parents if they do not get the place their child wanted, which is why we're working to get as many children their first choice as possible.”

Ninety per cent of primary pupils were handed a place at one of their top three preferences, and all those that applied within the deadline were given a place somewhere in the borough.

The figures come weeks after the council agreed a £10million expansion to three schools that will create an additional 90 places per year for the next five years.

High demand is putting severe pressure on school places in the borough, a problem Cllr Harper expects to get worse in years to come.

He said: “The demand will go up even further when the current bulge in primary places comes up through the system but we’re getting prepared for that with our investment programmes.

“Percentages are one thing but total numbers are another and these are growing so we need to be prepared for that.”

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