THE number of Poole children accepted at their first choice school has gone down.

Newly-released figures from the Department for Education show that 86 per cent of children in the borough beginning either primary or secondary education will be joining their preferred school, down from 92 per cent last year.

The data shows that of the 1,394 children who have applied to start Year 7 in one of the area's secondary schools, 83 per cent will be joining their first choice, around the national average.

In Poole, parents could provide up to three preferences for a secondary school, and 93 per cent of children were accepted into one of these.

There were 1,599 applications for pre-school children to join Reception in one of Poole's primaries.

Of those, 88 per cent were accepted into their first choice, and 97 per cent were accepted into one their three preferred options.

Richard Watts of the Local Government Association said: "Since 2010, councils have created more than 800,000 extra new places, and more than 85 per cent of these were in schools rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding.

"This is a demonstrable record that they are doing everything they can to rise to the challenge of ensuring no child goes without a place and receives a high-quality education."

Mr Watts warned that as more secondary schools become academies and free schools, local authorities will lose the power to control school admissions.

He said: "These figures show demand is reducing in primary schools but increasing in secondary schools. With nearly 70 per cent of secondary schools now academies or free schools, the lack of any council power or influence over the expansion and admissions policies of academies and free schools is a real concern.

"Councils must be given powers to force schools to expand if local agreement cannot be reached voluntarily, where this is in the best interests of new and existing pupils.

"Most academies will be keen to work with their local authorities, but in the minority of situations where this isn't the case, appropriate powers are vital to ensure all children get a suitable place."

Figures in Bournemouth and Dorset remained steady, with 83 per cent of children from Bournemouth and 93 per cent from Dorset getting their first choice schools.

In Bournemouth, 80 per cent of the 1,659 children who have applied for secondary school got their first choice, and 86 per cent of 1,964 primary school applicants.

In Dorset, 92 per cent of 2,890 secondary school applicants and 94 per cent of 3,664 primary school applicants got their first choice.