MORE than 530 students in Bournemouth have missed out on their first choice secondary school.

In a record year for submissions, just 71.09 per cent of 1,851 children whose families' applied were offered their first choice school in the town

Eight out of ten students were offered their first choice secondary in Bournemouth in 2018 – this year only seven out of ten have been successful.

Bournemouth Borough Council deputy leader and education portfolio holder councillor Nicola Greene said: "We recognise that some families will be disappointed they were not offered their first choice.

"If parents are worried about their child's school allocation, we would like to reassure them this is the beginning of the process, and that a specialist team is available to help with any queries they may have."

Bournemouth schools received 200 extra applications this year compared to 2018, but 90 per cent of families in the town will receive an offer from one of their three choices, the councils says.

Meanwhile, 80 per cent of families secured their first choice secondary school place in neighbouring Poole, with 91 per cent offered a place at one of their three preferred schools.

Borough of Poole young people and learning head Vicky Wales said: "All families who applied on time have been offered a school place.

"Where the place offered is not at their preferred school they are strongly encouraged to visit the school and speak to the headteacher about the opportunities available to their child."

Prior to yesterday's announcement, the Good Schools Guide was already warning that up to 115,000 youngsters across England and Wales were expected to not be offered their first choice schools. Last year the proportion of children missing out on a place at their top choice of secondary school, nationally, rose for the fifth year in a row.

Only 82.1per cent of 11-year-olds in England received an offer from their desired school in 2018, more than ten per cent higher than Bournemouth's 2019 figure.

Cllr Greene said: "Between now and September, schools will have considerable movement through waiting lists and appeals processes, so parents should not be too disheartened if they have been unable to secure their preferred school at this first phase of the allocation process.

"I would encourage parents to contact the Children’s Information Service where an advisor can talk through the range of options available to them."

In the Dorset County Council (DCC) local education authority area, some 97 per cent of children secured their first choice secondary.

This figure, bucking the national trend, represents a two per cent increase on last year.

DCC processed 4,116 applications in readiness for Friday's Secondary School National Offer Day.

Cabinet member for education at DCC, Cllr Andrew Parry, said: "Secondary Offer Day is a big day for children across the county, as well as their parents and carers.

"We are delighted that so many children have received an offer of a place at their first preference school.

"I wish every student the best of luck as they prepare to take the next step in their education in September."