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Third of local areas face secondary school places running out within five years

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Up to a third of local areas in England risk being oversubscribed for secondary school places within five years leaving almost 80,000 young people and their families at risk of missing out on a place, new analysis by the Local Government Association reveals today.

With two-thirds of secondary schools now academies, the LGA said councils need powers to tackle the looming places crisis by having the power to open more secondary schools or direct academies to expand to meet demand.

As children and young people return to school following the coronavirus lockdown, the LGA’s annual school places analysis reveals that:

  • Failure to create more secondary places will mean 11 council areas will face a secondary school place shortfall in 2021/22;
  • This is expected to increase to 28 in 2022/23; 45 in 2023/24; and 49 in 2024/25;
  • By 2025/26, a total of 50 council areas face not being about to meet demand for 77,085 places.

The LGA, which represents councils across England, is calling for the Government to use the forthcoming Spending Review to hand councils back the power to open new maintained schools where that is the local preference. It said councils should also have the same powers to direct free schools and academies to expand to meet any demand.

This would allow councils to meet 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.

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“Councils have an excellent track record of fulfilling their legal duty to ensure every child has a school place available to them and want to work with the Government to meet the challenges currently facing the education system.

“It continues to make no sense for councils to be given the responsibility to plan for school places but then not be allowed to be open schools themselves.

“Councils do not want any families to have to face uncertainty over securing their child’s secondary school. But with the number of pupils is growing at a far faster rate than the number of places available and councils need to be given the powers to help solve this crisis.”

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