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LGA responds to primary and secondary school offers

Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, responded to new statistics released by the Department for Education on primary and secondary school place offers

“Over recent years councils have created an extra 600,000 primary places. This is a demonstrable record that they are doing everything they can to rise to the challenge of ensuring no child goes without a place.

“Every child should have a fair chance of getting into their parents’ preferred school and councils and schools work extremely hard to try and ensure that as many pupils as possible are allocated their first preference.

“However, with nearly 70 per cent of secondary schools now academies or free schools, the lack of any council power or influence over the expansion and admissions policies of academies and free schools is a real concern.

“Councils must be given powers to force schools to expand if local agreement cannot be reached voluntarily where this is in the best interests of new and existing pupils. Most academies will be keen to work with their local authorities, but in the minority of situations where this isn’t the case, appropriate powers are vital to ensure all children get a suitable place.

“Councils must also have the lead role in judging and approving applications for new free schools to make sure they’re appropriate for communities, and will need to be able to place vulnerable children in the schools that can offer them the best support.”

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