HUNDREDS of children starting their education in September have missed out on their first choice primary school – although 97% of parents got one of their top three choices.

Admission figures released last week show around 500 youngsters across the county will not be attending their parents’ preferred choice school.

Somerset County Council said 91.45% of 5,755 children did get accepted into their first choice school, while 97.12% were given one of their top three choices.

The authority said that this was an improvement on last year, when 90.67% of children received their first choice, and 96.68% secured one of their top three choices.

It also said 21 fewer children applied for school places than in 2013.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, cabinet member for children and families, said: “It is great news that in almost all cases we have been able to meet parents’ and carers’ preferences.

“This year is an improvement on last year.

“For those children who haven’t got one of their top three choices, we will work with the families to make sure we meet that child’s educational needs.”

Linda Vijeh, county councillor for Ilminster, attended a presentation last week by Julia Ridge, Strategic Commissioning Manager for Early Years and School Place Planning in Somerset.

Afterwards, Cllr Vijeh said: “Contrary to popular rumour, there are places available, just not in the right places!

“Two key factors affecting this have been the rise in the birth rate, and also the number of housing developments across the district.

“This has resulted in a high demand for places in towns such as Ilminster and Chard, whereas, at the same time, places taken up by pupils in rural schools has decreased significantly, in large part because the rise in house prices has put them out of reach of many young families, hence fewer children are living in rural areas.”

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