DD's school, which is part of the North London consortium, had a very significant increase in application numbers this year.
Application numbers seem to have risen steadily over the last few years and at last one school I have heard attributed this to fewer people applying to boarding schools as they are so much more expensive.
I have heard of people with as many as 6 offers and I, too, have never heard of anyone not getting a place somewhere but
I have heard of cases where people ended with only one offer, or one offer from a fairly non-academic school they didn't really want but had to go on a waiting list for a more academic school.
One piece of advice I would give to parents whose daughters sat the exam (or indeed to parents of sons who are sitting exams) is don't make any plans to travel on business on offer day (you need to be there when the envelopes are opened!
) or for the week right up to acceptance date - and make sure that you have your mobile switched on at all times. Schools start calling around a few days after offers have gone out and once enough offers have been rejected to offer places to people on the waiting list. I am not sure how many times they try if you don't pick up your phone when they call! If you do get an offer from the waiting list but before the acceptance deadline, you will still need to get a deposit cheque to them by the original deadline so make sure that, if necessary, you are around on that day or can use a reliable courier. After all the hard work my DD had put in, I ended up hand-delivering the cheque - and it felt really good, sort of like a rite of passage almost.
Hope this helps and good luck to all of you! I do remember what it felt like. I am pleased to say, though, that DD is very happy at her school - definitely made the right choice for her.