Wednesday 15 January is the deadline for parents to decide on their first choice of primary school for their child.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents the majority of school leaders in England and Wales, said: “Deadline day can be an anxious time for families. Choosing the right primary school and securing a place can feel like a shot in the dark for parents.
“The reality is that until we have a co-ordinated approach to place planning, parents will still have to hope they get lucky. Local authorities are responsible for ensuring sufficient school places, but their powers and resources were removed in 2011 and not replaced with an alternative. Instead we have decisions being made in isolation and new schools and new school places are not always being commissioned in the areas they are most needed. This haphazard approach the government favours is denying parents and families a true choice over where to send their children to school.
“It’s difficult to imagine other public services being provided in this way. New hospitals, roads or rail lines would not be opened just because there’s a willing sponsor and not necessarily a public need. As well as harming choice, this must be a dreadfully inefficient way to go about delivering such an essential public service.
“The government’s own figures show that an extra 418,000 secondary school places will be needed in England by 2027, to meet the 14.7 per cent rise in pupil population. There is a desperate need for long-term planning that spans all sectors and until the government creates a national strategy to guarantee there are enough school places for every child in England, choice for parents will continue to be a bit of an illusion.”
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