66,500 miss out on preferred school
Tens of thousands of children in England missed out on their first choice of secondary school this year, official figures show.
Around one in seven youngsters failed to get a place at their first preference, according to statistics published by the Department for Education.
About 3.5% did not get an offer from any of their top three choices.
The latest figures show a slight rise overall in the percentage of 11-year-olds winning a place at their favoured school, but almost 66,500 youngsters (13.3%) were not offered a place at their first choice.
Almost 500,000 children in England received a secondary school offer on March 1, on what is commonly known as national offer day. Of those, 86.7% gained a place at their first preference, up 1.4% on last year, while 96.5% received an offer for one of their family's top three choices, up 0.6% on last year.
The figures also show that 97.8% of children were given the offer of a place at one of their six preferred schools, up 0.2% on last year.
Schools minister David Laws said the Government wants every parent to have the choice of a good local state school. "That is why we have made it easier for the best schools to expand and take on more pupils. We are also opening hundreds of academies and free schools every year," he said.
Mr Laws added that the Government is also focusing on transforming schools with a history of under-performance.
Pupils in London were the most likely to miss out on their first choice of secondary, the figures show. In total, 71.1% of youngsters in the capital won a place at their first preference. This has improved from 67.5% last year.
Children in the North East were most likely to get their top choice, with 94.6% winning a place at their family's first preference.