THE NUMBER of children who were allocated their first-choice secondary school plummeted this year, shocking figures have revealed.

Just 65.97 per cent of Year Six pupils have been given places at the preferred choice of schools for the coming September, down from 78.39 per cent last year.

The council blamed the decline on the increasing popularity of schools in neighbouring authorities.

A spokesman said: "The number of students offered their first preference of secondary school has unfortunately decreased this year for a number of reasons.

"The percentage of pupils allocated to schools outside Reading borough fell by nearly nine per cent this year due to the popularity of some of the schools in neighbouring authorities.

"Some of Reading’s schools have also increased in popularity this year while others, which have faced challenges with performance, have received fewer applications from families within their catchment area.

"We appreciate it is always disappointing for families who are not offered one of their preferred schools but our best efforts have been made to accommodate applications as far as possible."

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