Most and least popular high schools in Ipswich revealed

Kesgrave High School

Kesgrave High School - Credit: Archant

The most in-demand secondary schools in Ipswich are today revealed by the Star.

Northgate High School proved to be the most sought-after school by parents deciding on the future of their child leaving primary school.

The school in Sidegate Lane received first-choice applications from the parents of 352 pupils for September 2016. It was the highest number in Suffolk and exactly 100 more than the number of places the school made available.

The school is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and 66% of students last year achieved the Government’s target for GCSE results. It was higher than the Suffolk (54.5%) and England (53.8%) averages.

David Hutton, headteacher of Northgate High School, said: “We consider ourselves to be in a fortunate position, given that places at Northgate are in such high demand year on year, and take it as an endorsement from the local community of the quality of the provision we offer.

“As a maintained school, the local authority deals with admissions according to their published criteria, although that doesn’t seem stop some parents trying to contact me directly in an attempt to get their child priority. However, I can honestly say I have no involvement or influence whatsoever in this process.

“What the over-subscription of Northgate and several other schools means of course is that parents don’t always get their stated preference, which is why Northgate’s governors have recently tried to help as many parents as possible by increasing our intake from eight to nine classes each year.”

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The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request to Suffolk County Council.

Meanwhile, Copleston High School was the second-most popular school in Ipswich –and fourth in Suffolk by proportion – after receiving 347 first-choice applications for its 296 places.

Kesgrave High School, which was also oversubscribed, received 318 first-choice applications for 308 places – up from an original 280 to meet the growing need of Kesgrave.

Cath Breckell, deputy head of the school, said: “Unless we offered an additional 28 places, we were going to be refusing catchment area families. So we worked with the local authority to put in a temporary, two-classroom block to make sure we didn’t disappoint our catchment families.

“It is great to be popular, but Kesgrave is a growing area with more parents moving here, so we have to make sure we manage the need.”

In contrast, Ipswich Academy was undersubscribed. It received 82 first-choice applications, but had space for 210 new starters – the lowest proportion (39%) in Ipswich.

But the former Holywells High School, rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures by Ofsted in February last year, is making significant improvements and showing a “relentless drive to tackle weaknesses”, the education watchdog said in its latest monitoring report last month.