Over half of councils in England are at risk of not keeping up with demand over the next five years – leaving nearly 134,000 children with no school places, the Local Government Association (LGA) says. The Independent reports.
As children prepare to go back to school, council leaders have renewed calls for greater powers – to allow them to open new schools and direct academies to expand – to cope with a population bulge moving into secondary.
In England, 71 councils (52 per cent) may not be able to meet the need for 133,926 secondary school places by 2023/24, according to the LGA analysis of government figures.
“The reality is we face an emergency in secondary school places where the number of pupils is growing at a far faster rate than the number of places available,” Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, has warned.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “The lack of school places is an issue which isn’t going away. The massive increase in pupil numbers over the next few years, particularly at secondary age, will only make it harder.”
Mr Whiteman told The Independent: “The consequences for children’s education and wellbeing could be negative, with potentially larger class sizes, and certainly in some parts of the country it will mean children having to travel long distances to go to secondary school, or being separated from their peers, or even siblings, forcing parents to juggle several schools.”
Unless more secondary school places are created, LGA analysis says 13 local authorities will face a shortfall in 2019/20, rising to 25 councils in 2020/21, 46 in 2021/22 and 54 in 2022/23.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “This government has driven the largest creation in school places in two generations and by 2020, there will be one million more new places across the school system than there were in 2010.”
Have you seen class numbers rise recently? Is your school prepared for the coming population bulge? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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