Finding a place for their children at a local school is a stressful experience for many families. The massive increase in pupil numbers over the next few years will make it even harder. NAHT believes integrated local planning of school places across maintained, academy and free schools is necessary. We need a local agency able to commission both new schools and new places in all of these sectors.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “Today parents face the primary schools applications deadline for the next academic year, knowing they may not succeed in securing the right place for their children. It’s a challenging time for families and schools alike.
“Since 2011, the powers of local authorities in planning school places have been significantly reduced without an alternative system to take their place. We have a balkanised system with authorities, academies and central government taking decisions in isolation.
“The government’s own figures show they are expecting that at least 200,000 more primary school places and 80,000 more secondary school places will be needed in the next five years. The Local Government Association puts the cost of creating all the necessary places over the next decade at £12 billion.
“There is a desperate need for long-term planning that spans all sectors. With the massive increase in pupil numbers and over-stretched budgets, we cannot afford inefficiency and conflict.
“In the absence of comprehensive local planning, new schools are not always being commissioned in the areas with the most need. Schools in areas of high demand are being forced to expand, having to find new places, classrooms and funding, potentially over-stretching capacity and causing teaching quality to drop.
“Until some agency at the local or regional level has the information and the clout to prioritise school places where they are most needed, parents and children will always be unsure that the system will give them what they want. This does not necessarily need to be a local authority, but someone does need to do it."
Page Published: 15/01/2016