LGA warns of looming school places crisis

15 Jan 16
Councils will be unable to meet their legal duty to ensure all children have access to a school place unless academies expand to meet demand, the Local Government Association has warned today.

On the last day for parents to apply for their child’s primary school place, councils said that, without academies agreeing to increase capacity, the ability to provide enough school places could be put at risk.

This is because councils are not able to open new maintained schools under the government’s academy and free schools policies.

Councils have been able to create more than 300,000 extra primary school places over recent years through increasing class sizes, converting non-classroom space and diverting money from vital school repair programmes.

However Roy Perry, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said councils were now in the difficult position of not being able to ensure schools, including academies, expand.

“Finding suitable sponsors with the capacity to take on the running of a successful new school is also proving a challenge,” he added.

“Creating an extra 300,000 primary places is a demonstrable record that councils will do everything they can to rise to the challenge of ensuring no child goes without a place, but all schools must play their part too. If they are not willing to expand, then powers to create new schools should be returned to local authorities themselves if they are unable to secure high quality free school sponsors in their communities.”

Parents have until midnight tonight to submit applications online for primary school places.

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