FEWER children in East Lancashire have been given the first choice place in primary school, it has been revealed.

Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire County Council have seen a slight dip in the numbers of children gaining the preferred choice of school that was requested by their parents.

The numbers receiving the second and third choices also increased.

Education bosses said that an increase in the numbers of pupils starting school in September had caused the drop in the percentage of those securing the first choice.

In Blackburn with Darwen, places had to be found for another 122 children and an additional 590 youngsters needed a place in a Lancashire County Council school.

This year 87 per cent of children in Blackburn with Darwen were given the first choice school compared to 88.78 per cent last year.

This year seven per cent gained their second preference and two per cent their third.

In Lancashire County Council 89.2 per cent gained their preferred choice compared to 90 per cent last year.

This year 6.7 per cent gained their second preference and 2.3 per cent their third. Parents are being notified today by post and they have the right to appeal the offers that have been made.

Lisa Bibby, director of education and learning, said: “It is very pleasing to see a similar percentage of families receiving their first preference of primary school this year, especially considering the slight rise in pupil numbers.

“The council has increased capacity at Wensley Fold Primary School which has ensured that the first preferences met has only resulted in a one per cent drop from previous years, but the overall percentage preferences met has increased.

“There are a large number of popular primary schools in Blackburn and Darwen and this ultimately means there is competition for places.”

Bob Stott, Lancashire County Council's director for universal and early support services, said: “The first day at school is a real milestone for children, and for mums and dads too, and I am pleased that so many will be starting at one of their preferred schools.

“We are experiencing increased demand, so it is heartening to see the number of parents receiving one of their three preferences is actually slightly up compared to the same time last year.”