THOUSANDS of children are set to find out today if they have been given places in their preferred secondary school.

Students and parents across Dorset and Hampshire have waited for months to find out which school they will attend in September.

When they applied they were asked to list their three top choices in order of preference.

While some schools across the area are always over-subscribed, many will be left with a lot of spaces, leading to funding issues.

Last year only 80 per cent of students in Bournemouth were given places at their top choice school with 10.4 per cent allocated their second choice and three per cent their third choice.

In Poole the figures were 82.6 per cent, 8.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively while pupils in the Dorset County Council area fared better with 92.1 per cent getting their first choice, 4.5 per cent their second choice and 0.6 per cent their third choice.

The Good Schools Guide has warned that thousands of parents across England will be disappointed today.

But they have urged them not to be too vocal about it in front of their children.

Director Bernadette John said: “In the end you may have little choice but for your child to attend the school you’ve been given, no matter how much you dislike it. The job of getting your child settled there will be much harder if they know how negatively you view it. Try not to talk the school down too much when they’re around.”

But she also issued advice to parents about what to do if they are offered a place they don’t want.

She said: “The worst thing parents can do is to immediately reject the school offered, no matter how unwelcome. They need to hold this place while they research their options, which might include appealing to preferred schools or applying to other schools.

“Accepting the place your child has been offered may go against instinct but it is the wise thing to do. If you don’t accept this initial offer, you run the risk of your child having no school to go to in September.

“Once you have accepted that place, you can try to get on the waiting lists of schools you prefer – even those to which you didn’t originally apply. All kinds of things can happen between now and the start of the new academic year which could result in places being freed up.”