A HIGHER proportion of youngsters have gained places at their first choice of school this year, however councils have seen a fall in application numbers.

Yesterday, families across Dorset found out which primary or first school their child will be attending from this autumn.

In the Dorset County Council area, 95.5 per cent of parents were told their child has a place at their first choice of school, a 1.5 per cent increase on last year.

However, a total of 5,206 applications to primary and first schools were received – a 4 per cent decrease on the previous year.

Just over 99 per cent gained one of their three preferences, a higher percentage than Bournemouth and Poole.

The number of children who were not offered a place at any of their preferred schools dropped by half this year, from 78 to 39. They will be offered alternative schools, and any parents wanting to appeal against the decision can do so online.

To accommodate the number of pupils for 2018/19, extra places have been created at Ferndown First School and Bovington Primary, the county council says.

Deborah Croney, cabinet member for education, learning and skills, said: “We’re very pleased that Dorset has seen more pupils than ever being offered their first choice of school. It is great news for children – and their parents and carers. The council is continuing to work with schools to ensure there are enough places in the areas we need them.

“I wish all Dorset children the best of luck as they prepare to take the next step in their education in September.”

In Bournemouth, 85.9 per cent of the 1,958 applications for primary school places were allocated their first choice.

There are no children in the area who have not been given a place for September. Last year, around 80 children were not offered any of their three preferences, although there were 75 more applications in total.

And in Poole, 97 per cent of parents have been offered a place at one of their preferred schools, with 88 per cent getting their first choice.

Seven per cent got their second choice, and two per cent their third choice.

Families who have not been offered a place at their preferred school are encouraged to visit the school they have been offered and speak to the head teacher about the opportunities available to their child.

Nationally, primary schools have seen a boom in pupil numbers in recent years, prompted by a spike in the birth rate in the early 2000s.

However, this is now making its way up into secondary schools, and government forecasts published last month suggest that overall primary school pupil numbers may start to plateau beyond 2020/21.