Websites CRASH on National Offer Day

Stressful start to National Offer Day? Websites CRASH as hundreds of thousands of families find out today what secondary school their children will join in autumn

  • Some local council online systems were plagued with technical issues
  • Today is National Offer Day, when secondary school places are allocated 

Anxious parents today faced a nail-biting wait to find out if their child had been offered their preferred secondary school place after a number of online portals crashed. 

Hundreds of thousands of families across England are discovering what secondary school their child will be joining this autumn, on what is commonly known as National Offer Day.

But some parents have taken to social media to slam councils running the allocations after a series of websites – including in Leicestershire, Reading and Warwickshire – were plagued with technical issues.

Reading Council said a ‘critical incident’ had been declared after experiencing a technical fault with its Parent Portal and described it as ‘a national issue’.

They said: ‘Please note the Parent Portal for secondary school admission results is currently down. 

But some parents have slammed local council websites, which have been plagued with technical issues, including in Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Reading

‘This is a national issue and has been logged as a critical incident.’ 

In Leicestershire, some said they had checked the portal ‘several times’ to find out whether their child had received their first choice of secondary school, but no results were displayed. The issue was later resolved.

A county council spokesperson said: ‘Following a technical issue this morning, parents can now access the online portal to see information about their child’s secondary school place.

‘We apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused.’

Meanwhile, a Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said they were ‘aware that some parents and carers have had problems with links to our website today’ and apologised to those affected.

They added: ‘However, our parent portal system itself is working well and we’ve had over 1,000 places accepted before 10am this morning.

‘We’d like to reassure any parents or carers that these technical difficulties will not affect their school offer and they have until 15 March to accept their place.’

Some local council websites were plagued with technical issues, including Warwickshire and Reading Councils 

Some parents reacted to their children’s secondary school places, with some rejoicing that they had been offered their first choice.

Others were not as jovial and vowed to appeal the decision after their child did not get their first choice

Parents also used social media to react to the placements, with some rejoicing that they had been offered their first choice. 

One said: ‘Good luck to all kids receiving their secondary school places today, my daughter got first choice she’s happy so we are happy.’

Another commented: ‘Stressful morning with a happy outcome: my eldest got her first choice of secondary school.’

A third parent posted: ‘Woken up to an email saying that P has been offered a place at our first choice secondary school. Very excited, a little relieved, but mostly still in denial that my baby is off to secondary school!’

However, others were not as jovial and vowed to appeal the decision, with one parent saying her child had been given his third choice, a 40-minute walk away from their home.

The parent said: ‘Waiting for my youngest get up, to tell him he didn’t get his 1st or 2nd choice secondary school.

‘1st choice is the closest school (10 min walk), and no roads to cross. The school he is going to – a 40 minute walk, several major roads to navigate. Let the appeals process start.’

England’s school system has been put under pressure in recent years as a population bulge has been moving into secondary schools. 

It comes as a report found the majority of secondary schools in England do not prioritise poorer children in their admissions policies.

Some families are ‘priced out’ of oversubscribed schools due to higher property prices around the school as local pupils are often given priority, according to research by the University of Bristol.

Only a small minority of secondary schools prioritise pupils eligible for Pupil Premium support, which is linked to free school meals and used as a measure of disadvantage, when they are oversubscribed, the analysis has found.

England’s school system has been put under pressure in recent years as a population bulge has been moving into secondary schools.

The report, which was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, suggests that using geographical location in school admissions policies can ‘establish or reinforce segregation’ across neighbourhoods as more affluent parents have the resources to ‘buy admission to popular schools’ through the housing market.

The majority of secondary schools in England are academies or free schools, which allows them to set their own admissions criteria for allocating places when oversubscribed, independent of the local authority.

A Department of Education spokesperson said: ‘The vast majority of families will be offered a place at one of their preferred schools and most will be offered their top place.

‘We have already created over one million school places in the last decade – the largest increase in school capacity for at least two generations. We have also announced nearly £530 million to provide both primary and secondary places needed for 2023, and £940m for places needed for 2024 and 2025.

‘Last year, 94.4% of applicants for a secondary school place received an offer from one of their top three choices, while 83.3% were offered their first-choice secondary school.’

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