576,100 applications were received for a place at primary school in 2021, a 0.8% decrease on 2021 (which itself was a 5.1% decrease on the figure for 2020).
There has been a reduction in births in England from late 2016 onwards which generally leads to a drop in the number of children coming into primary school. The ages applying to start school in September 2022 were born between September 2017 and August 2018.
During the 2021 collection process, a number of local authorities advised that a larger than usual number of applications were submitted late, which means they were not counted in that year’s collection. The application deadline was during the winter pandemic period and, therefore, extra pressures on parents and carers may have impacted on them submitting their application on time. There might also have been other factors reducing the number of applications for that year (for example, an increase in parents choosing to home school).
The much smaller drop in the number of applications this year implies that these additional effects were limited to the height of the pandemic.
The proportion of primary applicants receiving an offer of their first choice school has increased slightly to 92.2% - up from 91.8% in 2021.
The proportion of applicants who received an offer of any of their preferred primary schools was unchanged compared to 2021 at 98.4%, with 9,000 applicants not receiving an offer of one of their preferred schools.
A timeseries of key results from 2014 are provided in the following table.
Primary geographical variation
At local authority level the three highest first preference rates were achieved in 2022 by:
- Redcar & Cleveland (98.9%)
- Cumbria (98.7%)
- Middlesbrough (98.4%)
Redcar & Cleveland has had the highest first preference rate for the last three years.
As in previous years, the lowest first preference rates at primary level are all in London:
- Kensington & Chelsea (69.5%)
- Hammersmith & Fulham (81.0%)
- Wandsworth (82.5%)
Kensington & Chelsea has been in the bottom three since 2015.
The only non-London local authority in the bottom ten was:
- Windsor & Maidenhead (83.8%)
The higher number of practical options available to London applicants and ability to name six preferences may encourage parents and carers to make more speculative choices for their top preferences.
As expected, there is much less variation in the proportions receiving any preferred offer compared to those for receiving a first preference.
Primary cross local authority offers
An applicant can apply to their local authority for any school, including those situated in another local authority.
In 2022 96.8% of primary offers made were of schools inside the home authority. This figure has been broadly stable for the past few years.