3.1 Collection and cleaning of the data
Secondary and primary data were gathered from local authorities at pupil level, with a record for each applicant for a school place.
This data has been aggregated by DfE into the local authority level figures provided in this release.
The data collected is the position as at the respective national offer day. It includes all offers made on that day, regardless of whether they were subsequently accepted or refused.
Cleaning of the data prior to aggregation may cause slight differences between the figures contained in this publication and any released by the local authorities themselves closer to the respective national offer days.
In some cases an application was recorded by both the home authority (to whom the application was made) and also by the local authority within which the school where a place was offered is based.
To be correct, only the home authority to whom the applicant sent their form should record the application and offer. Therefore the duplicate record submitted by the local authority in which the school is based has been removed.
Applications listing preferences or offers to schools which could not be identified from the school census, Get Information About Schools or via one of the additional 'dummy' school codes used to identify new schools or split entries (see below) were removed.
Other very small adjustments have been made as required to the source data to ensure that we provide as full and accurate a picture of the application and offer process as possible (for example, removing the second example if two offers have been recorded for one applicant, causing double-counting).
3.2 Notes on the data
The local authority receives, and reports on, applications for a school place from parents/guardians who are living within their local authority. This is called the home local authority.
No data is included for the Isles of Scilly, which has one school with a normal entry point of 3 which all children attend.
The preference rates are calculated as a proportion of all applicants who expressed one or more preference.
Where a preferred offer could not be made some local authorities, instead of making a non-preference offer, provide the applicants with a list of schools with availability to choose from. These will be listed as having received no offer.
Sometimes local authorities make an offer to a child for whom an application has not been received, but who they are aware will need a school place (for example, a secondary school offer where the child is already attending a local school in year 6). These are listed as non-applicant offers.
The percentages of offers made within and outside the home local authority are calculated as a proportion of the total number of offers made, both to applicants and to non-applicants.
3.3 Interpretation of the figures
The figures are based on the offers sent out by local authorities on the respective national offer days.
The final numbers of pupils starting in specific schools is likely to be different due to late applicants, refusal of offers, subsequent offers made via a second offer round or via the schools' waiting lists, or successful appeals. Revised figures incorporating any subsequent changes are not collected or published.
The inclusion of a school by an applicant as one of their preferences does not mean that they meet the admissions criteria for that school.
Examples of where the applicant has little or no chance of being admitted on national offer day include naming a selective school having not passed the grammar entrance test, living a long way out of catchment for a popular community school and requesting a place for a boy at a girls' school.
The department's admissions code states that the results of selection tests must be provided before the deadline for submitting the secondary application form. In 2020, however, they issued covid-related guidance strongly advising that testing for the 2021 selective school intake be delayed to Oct/Nov 2020 to give children as much time back in education as possible. Where the local authorities followed this advice parents had to name selective schools on the application form without knowing if their child would be eligible for a place at that school.
Some schools offer places via a lottery, where everyone who applies has an equal (subject to fair banding) chance of being considered, which may encourage applications.
If an authority is not able to make an offer of a preferred school, in most cases they offer a place at an alternative school.
However, some authorities chose instead to send the applicant a list of schools with available places and invite them to state which of these schools they would prefer their child to attend. These incidences are recorded as the applicant receiving no offer.
A total of five local authorities made no alternative offers on secondary national offer day, to applicants to whom they were not able to make an offer of one of their preferred schools, and six made no alternative offers on primary national offer day.
The tables include the percentage of offers which are of schools a) within or b) outside the local authority to which the application was made. These are calculated as a proportion of all offers, including those made to non-applicants (see table notes).
The local authorities were asked not to provide data on school places offered to children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) or statement of special educational needs (SEN), since the parents of these children were not required to apply for a school place.
However, there are a number of applications where special schools were amongst the preferences stated and, in some cases, a special school has been offered.
It's assumed these are offers to SEN children who do not have a statement or EHCP. These preferences and offers have been included in the final figures.
At secondary level the application is for the main entry point into secondary school in that local authority. This is usually year 7 but as at 2021 Central Bedfordshire's largest entry point is in year 9 and this is what they report on.
For local authorities with more than one entry point, the intake with the largest number of places available is the one reported.
Places at schools such as UTCs and studio schools, whose intake is in year 10 (at age 14 years), and other schools who do not offer places via the co-ordinated admissions process, are not included in these figures.
Some schools have two entry routes. At primary school this is generally a school with a single school code but with two sites, each of which can be applied for separately. At secondary level the two routes are usually either a school with day and boarding places, or a school with a number of places reserved for those passing aptitude tests (for example, in music or languages).
In these cases, parents can apply for both routes (e.g. for both sites of a split-site primary school), so a 'dummy' school code is used to identify the second option for each affected school.
All mainstream state-funded schools, including academies, are included in the figures.
However, new opener free schools can have a rapid set-up process and may not be ready in time to make their offers within the local authority co-ordinated exercise.
Therefore, for their first year of operation only, free schools may make offers directly and those that do so will be excluded from these figures. In their second year of operation, they must make offers within the local authority co-ordination process.
The Isles of Scilly local authority has one school which takes pupils between the ages of 3 and 16. Parents are not required to complete an application form and there is no competition for a place at the school. Therefore this authority has been omitted from both tables as preference rates cannot be calculated.
3.3 Further information
This release is the latest in an annual series with releases from 2011 onwards available on Statistics: school applications .
However, information on primary level preferences is only included from 2014 onwards.
This is when DfE started collecting data on primary applications and offers, based on the newly introduced national primary offer day of 16 April (or next working day).