National Primary Offer Day 2023 - 98% get a preferred school place amidst significant decrease in demand for places

Overall, 85,655 London children due to start primary school this September received an offer of a school place at one of their preferred schools - 98 per cent of the total number of applicants, according to figures published on National Primary Offer Day 2023 by the Pan London Admissions Board, the body with overall responsibility for co-ordinating school admissions in the capital.

88.5 per cent of the total number of London applicants - or 77,260 children - secured a place at their first preference school. This is an increase of 0.6 per cent from last year’s figures.

97 percent of the total number of London applicants – 84,723 children - were offered a place at one of their top three preferred schools, showing an increase of 0.37 per cent from 2022 figures.

London primary schools received 87,277 applications in total this year, a 2.67 per cent decrease compared to last year. Application numbers vary across different boroughs and may be affected by a range of factors, including the decreasing birth rate (which is a national trend as well as a London one) families moving due to changes in their circumstances and working patterns, and the localised effect of families leaving London during the Covid-19 pandemic and following Brexit. 

London boroughs are continuing to support local schools as demand for reception places drops across the capital, a report released by London Councils in January revealed.

This reduction in demand has led to surplus primary school places and has the potential to impact funding of individual schools as the majority of school revenue funding is allocated on a per pupil basis.

This is in the context of many schools struggling to balance budgets this academic year due to a combination of factors, including inflationary price increases, and a shortage of teaching and support staff which has led to increased spending on more expensive agency staff.

Boroughs are working closely with schools across London, with Government and with education services to share best practice and information to minimise the impact of the reduction in demand for school places. They are also lobbying for school funding levels to increase with inflation and are looking to work with Government to achieve a stronger framework to tackle these challenges effectively.

Cllr Ian Edwards, London Councils Executive Member for Children and Young People, said: 

“It is vital that all children in London have access to a high-quality education, and primary education is one of the most important first steps on this ladder. We want to ensure the best possible future for children applying to mainstream schools and for pupils with special education needs and disabilities (SEND). 

“It is positive that once again the overwhelming majority of children have an offer from one of their preferred schools. Boroughs have worked diligently with schools to ensure there are the places needed to meet demand across the capital.

“London boroughs are continuing to work with schools experiencing decreasing demand for school places to achieve good outcomes for young Londoners. London still has the best performing schools in the country and it is essential we protect them in this difficult climate.

“We remain keen to work with Government to respond to pressures surrounding primary school places and to support the growing demand for development of specialist SEND provision at a local level, ensuring that that all London pupils have the best start in life.” 

Jane McSherry, Spokesperson for the Pan-London Admissions Board and ALDCS Education Lead, said:

“This year the admissions process has gone smoothly and over 85,000 parents will receive an offer of a preferred school place in the capital - with over 77,000 of those being for their first preference school.

“Challenges such as falling birth rates and family migration from London have led to a continued decrease in demand for school places and resulted in a reduction in total applications this year.

“Boroughs are supporting schools to deal with this challenge, meet the needs of our youngest residents and ensure school places continue to be available where there is demand.

“Each London borough has an admissions team and we are ready to help and support parents with any queries.”


Notes to editors: 

1)  For more information and detail on London's secondary school admissions statistics, please download our FAQ document.

2) The Pan London Admissions Board has overall responsibility for the school application co-ordination scheme in the capital. Membership includes representatives of the Association of London Directors of Children’s Services, the London Inter Authority Admissions Group and the London Grid for Learning.


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