More children than ever are headed to their first-choice secondary school in Southend this September, new figures show.

In April, pupils starting at primary and secondary state schools this year found out which school they would be attending.

Parents can put between three and six preferences down for a state school of choice, with the exact number varying between local authorities.

Schools are ranked by order of preference, with pupils allocated to the highest school on the list for which they meet the eligibility criteria.

New figures from the Department for Education show there were 2,183 applicants to secondary schools in Southend this year.

Of these, 85.3 per cent were given a place at their first choice for the 2022-23 school year – up from 67.5 per cent the year before.

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This is the highest proportion since comparable data was first recorded, in 2014-15.

Meanwhile, 97.8 per cent were allocated to one of the schools on their list – also up from the year before, when the same figure stood at 93.9 per cent.

If pupils do not receive an offer from any of their preferences, they are given a place at another school by the local council.

Across England, 83.3 per cent of more than 600,000 applicants are headed to their first choice of secondary school in September, up from 81.1% last year.

Across the whole of the East of England, 91.8 per cent were allocated their first-choice primary school, and 86.5 per cent of incoming secondary pupils landed their first pick.

The figures show 88.6 per cent of Southend children were given their first primary school of choice, a rise from the 85.4 per cent in the 2021-22 school year.

This is the highest proportion since 2018-19.

Almost every child was given a primary school place on their list, with 96.1 per cent being allocated to one of their preferences.

School standards minister Robin Walker said: “It’s fantastic to see the overwhelming majority of prospective primary and secondary pupils once again receive offers from their preferred schools.

“We are continuing to drive forward work to level up the quality of education across the country, and with pupils already far more likely to go to a good school than they were ten years ago, parents can be confident that wherever they live their child will get the high-quality education they deserve.”