THOUSANDS of parents and children in Dorset have been finding out if they have a place at their primary school of choice this September.

For the first time this year, families in every area of the country are finding out at the same time which school they have been allocated on National Offer Day.

It has been suggested that tens of thousands of four-year-olds may have missed out on their first-choice place.

Councils and schools have been facing an increasing squeeze on school places, particularly for primary-age children, partly fuelled by a rising birth rate in recent years and the impact of immigration.

In Bournemouth, the council said that 2242 applications had been received and 82 per cent had got their first choice.

Cllr Nicola Greene, deputy leader and cabinet member for education and children’s services, said: “We, like many other councils across England have been faced with the challenge of providing a large number of additional primary school places. Working closely with schools and their governing bodies and the wider community we have planned ways to accommodate the increase in demand for now and in future years.

“I’m pleased to say that we have allocated a place for every child who applied by the closing date with 95.5 per cent of parents receiving one of their top three preferences.”

In Poole, a total of 1690 applications were received of which 84 per cent were offered their first preference, compared to 93 per cent in 2013.

Vicky Wales, head of children, young people and learning, borough of Poole, said: “Every Poole parent who applied for their child to attend reception by the closing date has been offered a place in a school and 94 per cent have been offered a place at one of their preferences.

“An additional 75 reception places have been added to schools across the borough to accommodate the anticipated rise in numbers.

“Where families have not been offered a place at their preferred school we would encourage them to visit the school they have been offered and speak to the head teacher about the opportunities available to their child.”

But families in Christchurch and the rest of Dorset had the best news overall, with 94 per cent out of a total of 5229 applicants, getting their first preference for all types of schools.