More than 95% get top three choice for primary school places in Reading

More than 83% of parents got their first choice for their children’s primary school places in Reading this year, despite an increase in 160 applications compared to last year.

Brighter Futures for Children, which delivers education services in Reading, has made sure all primary school pupils in the borough have a place for September. Of these, 83.44% (1,753 pupils) got their first choice and just 3.33% (70 pupils) were offered a divert option.

The number of applications for places at Reading’s primary schools has increased, up from 1,882 in 2019 to 2,042 this year.

A total of 2,140 places were available on National Offer Day (16 April) in Reading primary schools. The remaining places (160) are held for late applications and transfers during the academic year.

This year, a new Primary School Green Park Village Academy is opening in Green Park, which may account for the increase in applications.

For those who couldn’t be offer a place, a divert school has been offered. All divert schools are considered to be within a reasonable distance of the child’s home address. This accounts for 3% of applications.

Late applications have still to be processed.

In addition, there were 150 pupils who needed an infant to junior school transfer. Reading has only two schools for which this transfer is necessary. 98.67% of Reading residents’ on-time applications received their first preference.  There were two pupils who were not offered a place at their preferred school but they are not attending an infant school. Late applications for these, too, still have to be processed.

Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at Brighter Futures for Children, said:

'It's no surprise to us that there has been an increase in applications for Reading's primary schools this year. Parents are very happy with the very impressive education their children receive in the borough and we are working closely with all schools to maintain and further improve standards all the time.

'I'd like to personally thank all primary school staff for their continued commitment to making Reading such a popular choice and I'd also like to thank the education team at Brighter Futures for Children for working so hard to ensure so many families got their preferred choices and that every child in the borough has been offered a place. I wish all children starting at primary school this year all the very best for the future.’

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Education, said: ‘It's great to see more parents choosing Reading's primary schools and over 95% getting one of their top 3 choices. Welcome to Green Park Village Academy as the newest member of our primary family here in Reading.

‘I'd also like to take this opportunity to extend thanks to all of our schools in Reading for all that they've done to keep the children of key workers and vulnerable children safe and in school, keeping home learning going so well, and still managing to help us with the admissions process. We continue to be grateful for all education staff going above and beyond every day.’

2020 2019 2018 2017
Number of applicants 2042 1882 2102 2254
Percentage of 1st Preference offers 83.44% 87.35% 84.02% 77.50%
Percentage of Second Preference offers 8.85% 6.75% 8.80% 10.10%
Percentage of Third Preference offers 2.76% 2.66% 2.47% 3.81%
Percentage of Fourth Preference offers 1.19% 0.85% 1.05% 2.17%
Percentage of pupils offered a divert 3.33% 1.19% 3.62% 6.20%
Percentage of pupils allocated to other LA schools 10.63% 11.16% 9.61% 9.79%
2020 2019 2018 2017
Number of pupils offered first preference 1753 1644 1767 1751
Number of pupils offered second preference 186 127 185 228
Number of pupils offered third preference 58 50 52 87
Number of pupils offered fourth preference 25 16 22 49
Number of pupils offered a divert 70 36 76 139
Number of pupils allocated other LA Schools 217 210 202 222
Number of places in Reading schools allocated to children in another LA 41 43 30 37

New Chair announced for Brighter Futures for Children 

Di Smith, Brighter Futures for Children Chair

BRIGHTER Futures for Children (BFfC) has announced the appointment of its new Board Chair. The company provides Reading’s education, early help and children’s services. 

Di Smith, who has worked in the children and education sector for more than 40 years, has taken on the role from 1 April following her appointment by the Department for Education. 

She takes over from Deborah Jenkins MBE who helped in the creation of BFfC and played a significant role in the considerable improvements achieved over the last two years. 

Ms Smith has been Independent Chair of the Children’s Services Improvement Board in Reading and has supported the progress that has been made since 2016. 

She has been a Director of Children’s Services in four different areas and has provided improvement support in several local authorities. 

Ms Smith has also worked in residential care, been a head teacher, Ofsted inspector and chair of governors and held senior leadership positions in six local authorities. 

She also holds a number of other positions including that of Independent Chair/Scrutineer of Croydon’s Safeguarding Children’s Partnership, Safeguarding Trustee at The Children’s Society and Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Advisory Committee for the Diocese in Europe. 

Ms Smith said: "I am delighted to be the new Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children. Over the past few weeks, I have received regular updates from the Managing Director Tony Kildare and Director of Children’s Services Deborah Glassbrook.  

"I have been really inspired by what I have heard from them about staff commitment, adaptability, focus and care. These are extraordinary times and I feel proud to be joining an organisation that has such a dedicated, caring and committed workforce."

Derborah Jenkins is leaving the role after becoming chair in March 2018 and playing a key role in helping Reading’s Children’s Services achieve its improved Ofsted rating in October last year. 

Ms Jenkins said: “It has been a huge pleasure to work in Reading for the last two years, and to play a part in building Brighter Futures for Children 

“I would like to thank everyone I have worked with in Reading for their hard work, commitment and dedication to transforming the quality of children’s services in the borough. 

I am confident, with the excellent new chair Di Smith in place, BFfC has the talent and skills to create some of the best services in the country for the children and young people of Reading.” 

Antony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “We are all indebted to Deborah Jenkins for taking us on this improvement journey and firmly putting us in the positive place we are today. 

“I am delighted that Di Smith is joining us as our new Chair after working with us in Reading for some time.

"She brings a huge amount of experience to the BFfC board and I am sure she willl have a great influence on our ongoing drive to deliver the best possible services for children and young people in Reading.” 

Cllr Liz Terry, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said: “I welcome the appointment of Di Smith as Chair of the Brighter Futures for Children Board. She has a wealth of experience working in the children sector and I am sure she will be a great asset to the company. 

“I would also like to thank Deborah Jenkins for her work during her two years as Chair during which time there have been ongoing improvements to children’s services in Reading.” 

Notes to Editors 

Brighter Futures for Children is an independent not-for-profit company, wholly owned by Reading Borough Council, established in December 2018 to deliver education early help and children’s services for Reading. 

The company operated as a shadow company for some months before while services were still being run by Reading Borough Council. 

BFfC successfully brought children’s services out of its 'inadequate’ Ofsted rating in October 2019 when it was judged as ‘requires improvement to be good’. 


Former foster carers urged to return during coronavirus crisis

Brighter Futures for Children, which delivers children’s services in Reading, is putting out a call to former foster carers in the borough to re-register amid concerns the coronavirus epidemic could lead to a shortage of adult carers to look after vulnerable children.

Existing foster carers with Brighter Futures for Children’s Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) are also being asking if they would consider looking after more children than usual during this difficult period.

The appeal for help is in response to national concerns, shared by Brighter Futures for Children, that children and young people spending more time in unstable family situations, due to Covid-19 measures, may need to come into care.

Also, some existing foster carers, including family and friends carers, may become ill or need to self-isolate and be unable to look after their foster children.

The aim is to try to widen its foster care network across the board.

The IFA is writing to all former foster carers who have given up fostering in the last two years to ask if they would consider returning. These are carers who may have been registered with Brighter Futures for Children’s IFA or with Reading Borough Council before that. The service was transferred to Brighter Futures for Children in March 2019 and became an IFA at that time.

Re-registering would be carried out as quickly as possible and a great support network is on offer to all foster carers.

The service is also keen to hear from anyone who is interested in finding out more about becoming a foster carer.

The Brighter Futures for Children IFA is continually improving the service offered to foster carers and the children and young people who rely on it, as demonstrated by its recently improved Ofsted rating.

Tony Kildare, Brighter Futures for Children’s Managing Director, said: “We believe we have a robust and resilient business continuity plan to see us through this period but we want to widen our foster care network across the board. We need the Reading community to help us with this.

“Our foster carers do an amazing job and we are asking if they could go even further and take on more children than usual. We would also love to welcome back any former foster carers who could offer their help in these difficult times.

“Brighter Futures for Children IFA is committed to offering the best possible support to our foster carers to ensure they can continue to look after Reading children locally during this unsettling period.”

Biri Yaya, Fostering Service Manager at Brighter Futures for Children's Independent Fostering Agency said: “We are committed to ensuring that all of our children and young people across Reading are safe and well in a caring home during these tough times.

‘It’s sad but inevitable that more children will come into care over the coming weeks and months and we are planning and preparing for that and hope that we can welcome back former foster carers and encourage potential new carers.”

Former foster carers should call 0118 469 3020 or email foster@brighterfuturesforchildren.org.

Anyone interested in foster care should call 0118 469 3020 or complete the online form at: https://www.readingfostering.co.uk/

Notes to editors

In December 2018, Brighter Futures for Children was established to deliver children’s social care, early help and education on behalf of Reading Borough Council. As a company it is independent of, but wholly owned by, Reading Borough Council. Within this, Brighter Futures for Children’s Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) was established in March 2019.