Secondary school places crisis ‘just one year away’

In total, councils created 96,000 school places last year by working with their existing primary and secondary schools and, in some cases, commissioning places in academies and free schools.

Of that total, 37,000 new places were created by councils in secondary schools. But with two-thirds of secondary schools now academies, the LGA said councils have no powers to open more secondary schools or direct academies to expand.

The LGA’s latest analysis reveals that unless more secondary school places are created, 15 councils will face a secondary school place shortfall in 2020/21. By 2024/25, a total of 71 councils (48 per cent) face not being able to meet demand for 123,195 places.

To address this looming crisis, the LGA is calling for the Government to give councils back the power to open new maintained schools where that is the local preference; and hand back the responsibility for making decisions about opening new schools.

This is the only way to ensure councils can tackle the growing demand for places, meet their legal duty to ensure every child has a school place and cope with a surge in primary school pupils moving through the system.

An LGA spokesperson said: “Despite all odds, councils have been able to provide desperately needed places for parents looking to secure their child’s place at secondary school in the past year.

“No family should face uncertainty over their child’s school place. But our secondary school places crisis is now just one year away and, without action, this will be the reality for thousands of families.”

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