Thousands of children ‘to miss out on secondary school places’  

3 Sep 18

Council leaders have warned of a secondary school “emergency” after calculating 134,000 children will miss out on a place in 2023-24.

In five years’ time more than half of the councils in England will be unable to meet demand for secondary school places, according to analysis of government figures by the Local Government Association.

Because of a surge in primary school children coming through, shortfalls in secondary school places will hit 13 local authorities in 2019-20, the umbrella-group found.

Unless more places are created this number will rise to 71 (52%) councils by 2023-24 - equating to 133,926 school places, the LGA concluded, looking at data from the Department for Education’s School Capacity Survey.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “The reality is we face an emergency in secondary school places where the number of pupils is growing at a far faster rate than the number of places available.”

The LGA said that as two-thirds of secondary schools were now academies, councils have limited ability to fulfil their statutory obligations to provide school places.

The group, which represents 370 councils in England an Wales, called on the government to give councils back the power to make decisions about opening new schools.

The government must also allow councils to direct free schools and academies to expand, as they can currently do for maintained schools, the LGA urged.

“It makes no sense for councils to be given the responsibility to plan for school places but then not allowed to open schools themselves” Bramble said.

“It is only by working with councils, rather than shutting them out, that we can meet the challenges currently facing the education system.”

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “We are spending £23bn by 2021 to ensure every child has access to a good school place and since 2010, 43,000 fewer pupils are being taught in overcrowded schools.

“Our last admissions data shows that 93.8% of children received an offer from one of their top three choice of secondary school last year.”

The current government has been pushing for the number of grammar school places to be increased, making a £50m fund available to do this in May this year

This has prompted education specialists to question whether expanding grammar school places could worsen social mobility

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