The TES reports that a focus on free schools, a lack of coherence on strategy to increase primary school places and a budget blackhole will make National Offer Day a testing time for parents and ultimately schools, says James Bowen, director of NAHT Edge.
National Offer Day, has little significance for the vast majority of teachers. Families will find out which primary school their children will attend, but in schools there is no mad rush to the office to find out which children have secured a place.
But teachers should take note of the fallout of National Offer Day for primary schools – it will highlight how misguided government policy currently is and it will also be teachers at the forefront of dealing with the (likely numerous) unhappy parents that will result from those policies.
A quick internet search alone will provide parents with access to the latest Ofsted report, the school’s published test data and any recent media coverage, be it good or bad.
True choice depends on two factors: there needs to be enough school places in each area for every child and those schools need to be of a high standard. The reality is that the lack of a coherent national strategy on school places is actively working against parental choice.
The government’s obsession with the free school project means that new schools are not always being built where they are most needed. The government should not be spending considerable sums of public money on new schools where there are already enough places while in other parts of the country families struggle to find a place and know that their child may be taught in a class of over 30 pupils.
Any government has responsibilities: making sure there are enough places for pupils, guaranteeing a good supply of teachers and providing them with adequate funding. In all three of three of these areas, there remains significant work to be done.
National Offer Day will always be one where, for many parents, the concept of “choice” could feel completely illusory.
Should local authorities have more say where free schools are made? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter ~ Tamsin
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