THE number of parents winning appeals after their child was not offered a place at their preferred school has plummeted in Dorset.

Most recent figures reveal that just 99 out of 242 cases - 41 per cent - were won ahead of the 2017-18 academic year.

This compares with 59 per cent four years earlier.

Department for Education data reveals that parents of secondary school-age pupils are more likely to be successful in their appeals than those of primary school pupils.

Despite the drop, the likelihood of Dorset’s parents winning their appeals is still higher than the national average, with parents across England winning their appeals in just 22 per cent of cases last year.

Schools across the area will be holding open days and open evenings in the coming months and applications for secondary school places for next year must be submitted by October 31.

Competition is expected to be fierce this year due to an increase in the number of secondary pupils in the Dorset County Council area.

For reception, junior or middle school places, the deadline is January 15.

Last year, 93 per cent of applicants in Dorset were offered a place at their first choice of school.

The number of appeals in England has risen dramatically over the last five years, climbing from 50,550 in 2013-14 to 60,700 in 2017-18.

This equated to a rate of four appeals per every 100 admissions compared to 3.5 five years ago.

Academies, who act as their own admissions authority, were more likely to be the subject of appeals than schools maintained by local authorities.

Appeal panels were also more likely to decide in a parents’ favour with academies than they were with local authority-maintained schools.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Since 2016, the number of appeals against admissions has remained stable and our latest admission data shows that the vast majority of pupils secured a place at their first choice of school this year.”

In the Poole council area the number of parents winning appeals has also dropped over the same period.

Of 123 appeals ahead of the 2017-18, 43 per cent were successful compared with 53 per cent four years earlier.

However, in Bournemouth more parents were successful in appeals with 32 per cent of the 143 hearings ruling in favour of the parents compared with 24 per cent.