Analysis by the LGA shows that we are swiftly approaching a severe lack of secondary school places, unless the government grants councils additional power
New research by the LGA shows that approximately 134,000 children will miss out on a secondary school place by 2023/24 unless new places are created for them. This is due to the ongoing surge in primary school pupils.
The LGA represents 370 councils in England and Wales, and is calling for the government to give those councils the power to open schools in order to avoid an emergency situation.
“Every child has a right to attend a good local school. It is government’s responsibility to ensure Councils have the powers at their disposal to enable them to do so,” commented Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of the National Education Union.
The research shows that, unless more secondary school places are created, 13 local authorities will face a secondary school place shortfall in 2019/20. This is predicted to then rise to 25 in 2020/21, 46 in 2021/22 and 54 in 2022/23.
By 2023/24, 71 councils face being unable to meet demand for 133,926 places.
Councils have created an additional 600,000 primary school places since 2010 in the wake of the population bulge. They have achieved this by expanding existing council-maintained primary schools – even commissioning places in academies and free schools in some cases.
With two-thirds of secondary schools now academies, however, councils have little ability to fulfil their obligation to provide school places.
As such, the LGA wants the government to give councils the power to open new maintained schools, as well freedom to direct free schools and academies to expand.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“No family should face uncertainty over securing their child’s secondary school. But 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.
“This is why councils need to be given the powers to help solve this crisis. As a starting point they should be allowed to open new maintained schools and direct academies to expand.
“It makes no sense for councils to be given the responsibility to plan for school places but then not allowed to open schools themselves.
“It is only by working with councils, rather than shutting them out, that we can meet the challenges currently facing the education system.”
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