Why do there seem to be so many school place shortages?

National Offer Day can be an anxious time for many parents, and now with secondary school pupil numbers on the rise, parents in some parts of England have even more to worry about. The Independent reports.

This year, for the first time, Hertfordshire County Council has failed to allocate all children a school place. Nearly 200 families are in limbo waiting to hear where their child will be for the start of the autumn term.

So why are more children missing out on places at their preferred schools? Quite simply, there are more pupils entering secondary school than in previous years, making the competition tougher.

The rise goes back to a baby boom in the early 2000s that is making its way through the system. Government forecasts show that secondary school pupil numbers will rise by 15 per cent over a nine-year period. The population is expected to peak at 3.3m in 2027 – 418,000 more than in 2018.

But not all parts of the country will experience a shortage of school places. A child’s chance of winning a place at their preferred school varies significantly depending on where they live.

The problem appears to be most acute in London and its surrounding counties, as well as other cities with significant population growth.

For a number of years, councils, schools and unions have spoken up about a potential shortage of secondary places. And yet in some areas, not enough forward planning appears to have taken place.  

The government says it has increased the number of free schools to ensure there are enough places, but these are not always in the right areas. And some may not have not opened in time.

Moreover, councils, who are responsible for making sure there are enough places, are not able to create schools. They also cannot force academies and free schools to expand to take more pupils.

Read the full article Why do there seem to be so many school place shortages?

Has your school run out of places or are you a parent worried about your child’s school place? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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