The number of children not offered a place at any of their preferred secondary schools has doubled since 2010.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that 372 children in West Sussex were not offered a place at any of the schools they applied to, up from 175 in 2010.

The figures also reveal that children in West Sussex are increasingly unlikely to receive their first preference of secondary school.

Around one in seven children (13.6 per cent) in the county were not offered a place at the first choice of school, equivalent to 1,283 children. The figure was up from just seven per cent in 2010.

An independent report published by West Sussex County Council earlier this month revealed the council were aware there would be a shortage of Year 7 places for 2023/24 from data the council received six years beforehand.

The Argus: Tom RutlandTom Rutland (Image: Tom Rutland)

Tom Rutland, who is standing to be Labour’s candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham at the next general election, said: “It was obvious that a school place crisis was coming down the track for years. But instead of acting, the West Sussex Conservatives sat on their hands.

“Parents rightly expect to be able to send their child to an excellent local school - no one wants their child commuting for hours upon end every week.

“Some parents I’ve met whilst out campaigning have told me that they’ve been left with little choice but to move away to avoid this mess.

“This isn’t just a failure to plan properly - it’s a failure to invest in the next generation. I’ll be fighting to ensure young people get the opportunities they deserve.”

The news comes as parents of Year 6 children fill out applications for secondary school entry next year, with applications closing today.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: "We appreciate how frustrating it can be for families to whom we are unable to meet their preferences. 

"In these situations, children are generally offered a place at the nearest school with space available and we do all we can to support them and their families in line with our admissions policy. 

"Families who are not happy with their allocated school can appeal the decision via the admission appeals process, which is entirely independent of West Sussex County Council.

"An independent report was commissioned by West Sussex County Council to investigate issues with school places in the Shoreham area recently.

"Following publication of the report West Sussex County Council are taking actions to help rectify the situation for future years."