One in six Reading pupils missed out on gaining a place at their first-choice primary school, new figures show.

School leaders’ union the National Association of Headteachers says the anxiety for parents over not securing their preferred school this year will "only be heightened" by fear and uncertainty felt during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The picture in Reading reflected that across England, where 90.2 per cent of Reception starters received an offer from their first-choice school, falling from 90.6 per cent last year.

Department for Education figures show that 84 per cent of children starting primary school in Reading this September received an offer from their first-choice school – down from 88 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, the proportion of pupils securing a place at their first-choice secondary school in Reading rose from 64.4 per cent last year to 72.7 per cent this year.

That was lower the national rate, which increased from 80.9 per cent to 82.2 per cent over the same period.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, said: “The anxiety families are feeling, and the disappointment for those not getting their first choice, will only be heightened by the confusion and uncertainty caused by coronavirus.

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“It is vital that no child going through the primary admissions process this year should be disadvantaged.

“For those families not getting their first choice of school, the appeals process must be as robust as ever and be made clear to parents.”

The Department for Education announced a temporary relaxing of the rules around school admission appeals at the end of April, meaning they do not have to be held face-to-face during the coronavirus pandemic.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “The vast majority of parents have again received an offer from one of their top three preferences of primary or secondary school for the next academic year.

“We will be supporting primary schools that have capacity to bring back more children – with reduced class sizes of 15 – to do so if they can before the summer holidays, and we will be working with the sector to bring all children back to school in September."