Wired-GOV Newswire (news from other organisations)
Printable version

LGA - Councils call for powers to provide all children with secondary school places

As children receive their secondary school placement offers, council leaders have reissued a call for councils to be given back powers to open new maintained schools or compel academies to expand to make sure every child has a place.

Warning that the legal duty of councils to ensure every child has access to a school place would be made undeliverable otherwise, the Local Government Association, which represents over 370 councils across England, is calling on government to ensure councils remain at the heart of school place planning.

As thousands of children wait to find out their secondary school placement today, councils fear that without academies – which now make up over 60 per cent of secondary schools - agreeing to increase capacity, and without the ability to open new maintained schools in areas of need, the ability to provide enough school places could be put at risk. The LGA is also concerned that councils may struggle to find free school sponsors to open schools in time within their areas as the programme develops.

Councils are uniquely situated with the knowledge of what their local areas need, and have a duty to plan for a 20 per cent increase in secondary school students by 2024. Official figures show that 3,287,000 secondary school places will be needed in 2024, compared to 2,740,000 in 2015.

Cllr Roy Perry, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said:

"Councils have a statutory duty to ensure every child has a school place available to them but find themselves 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.

"Councils have already created an extra 300,000 primary places, but those children will soon need to move up to secondary schools.  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 academies 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."

As well as being given powers to build schools themselves if necessary, the LGA believes that funding allocations should be provided in five-year blocks to allow councils to work with local schools to financially plan long-term.

Notes to editors:

Most recent Department for Education statistics on National Pupil Projections, published in July 2015 

Share this article

Latest News from
Wired-GOV Newswire (news from other organisations)

On-demand webinar: How AI is helping Telford and Wrekin council answer 95% of queries