Applications for secondary school places have fallen for the first time since 2013, new Department for Education statistics show.
Data out today shows 600,352 applications were received for a place at secondary school in 2020, a 0.7 per cent decrease on 2019, when 604,496 applications were received.
This is in contrast with a 3.7 per cent increase in applications between 2018 and last year, and is the first fall since 2013, when the population bulge that began in the early-2000s started to make its way into the secondary sector.
The data also shows the proportion of pupils getting their first choice of secondary school rose to 82.2 per cent this year, up from 80.9 per cent last year.
Primary first preference data, released earlier this year, showed a decrease in first preferences, from 90.6 per cent in 2019 to 90.2 per cent this year.
This corresponds with a 0.5 per cent increase in primary school place applications, from 608,957 in 2019 to 612,146 this year. It is the first time primary applications have risen since 2016.