THE anxious wait for families across the region has ended as they found out which primary school their child will be attending.

For many the day brought joy while others faced coping with disappointment with what is commonly known as National Offer Day across England.

Many families were notified through their online applications yesterday, while some will be notified of the result through the post.

In County Durham, more than 96 per cent of children were awarded their first choice primary school – up 1.23 per cent on last year.

Of the 5,131 applications received, 4,927 have been given a place at their number one choice, with 128 their second choice and 26 their third.

Councillor Olwyn Gunn, Durham County Council's cabinet member for children and young people's services, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer so many children their first choice schools, and to see that number rising year on year.

“We know that for parents, the decision of where to send their children to school is a big one and we look forward to providing our county's next generation with the high-quality education they deserve.”

Fifty children were not offered a place at one of their three preferred schools, but the council said they have been offered a place at another school as close to their home as possible and every child who applied has been offered a place at a school in the county.

In Middlesbrough, the number of first-choice places secured was also high with nearly 95 per cent, or 1,835 children, receiving the good news compared to 92 per cent last year.

Middlesbrough Council received 1,934 applications for primary school places this year, down slightly from 2,019 last year.

The figures also brought joy to those in North Yorkshire, with nearly 95 per cent of parents and carers securing their child’s first school preference.

North Yorkshire County Council said the figure remains consistently high in comparison with several other places in the country with as many as 98 per cent of families in the county secured one of their top three preferences.

“This is very good news for North Yorkshire families,” said Stuart Carlton, North Yorkshire County Council’s corporate director of children and young people’s services. “We are pleased that so many families continue to gain the first preference from their choice of schools and that the percentage remains consistently high.

“However, as a local authority we work hard with all North Yorkshire schools to ensure they deliver the highest standards of education so that families who are not given first preferences can still send their children to good schools.

“We wish all children starting primary school in September all the best and hope they really enjoy the top-quality teaching and learning our schools provide.”

A Press Association survey suggested that in many areas across the country, higher proportions of youngsters gained places at their first choice of school this year, while at the same time, councils saw a fall in application numbers.

In total, of 40 councils who have responded to a Press Association survey so far, giving comparable figures, 70 per cent indicated that they have seen a rise in the proportion given their first preference of school, while 12.5 per cent have seen a fall, and 17.5 have seen no change.

In addition, of 31 that gave comparable information on application numbers, 27 authorities had seen a fall in applications, while four had seen an increase.

Primary schools have seen a boom in pupil numbers in recent years, prompted by a spike in the birth rate in the early 2000s.

However, this is now making its way up into secondary schools, and government forecasts published last month suggest that overall primary school pupil numbers may start to plateau beyond 2020/21.

Official data shows that last year, 90 per cent of families got their first choice of primary school.

Speaking about National Offer Day, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "This can be an anxious time for families. Choosing the right primary school and securing a place there can feel like a battle for parents.

"The problem is that local authorities are responsible for ensuring sufficient school places, but the powers and resources necessary for them to do so have been removed."

He argued that there is a lack of a "co-ordinated approach to place planning" and called for a national strategy to guarantee there are enough places for every child in England.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: "A good primary school education lays the foundations for success at secondary school and beyond, so it is right that we help make sure every child reaches their potential from the moment they start their education.

"That's why we're investing £5.8billion to create even more good schools and good school places, building on the 825,000 we've created since 2010, resulting in nine out of ten pupils securing one of their top three choices of schools."