Commenting on the publication of primary and secondary school applications and offers data today, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“2018 is a record year for secondary school applications. Since collection of this information started in 2013 we've seen a 16.6% increase. There's a population surge that is now reaching secondary school. The government’s own figures show that there is a desperate need for a national planning strategy to guarantee enough school places for all children.
“The percentage of secondary school applicants receiving their first place has dropped as the number of applications has increased. This year 17.9% of children did not get into their first place school, up from 16.5% in 2017. For too many, there will be huge disappointment. 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.
“And the national average masks huge variations – in London this year the number of children getting their first place preference is very low, just 51.4% in Hammersmith & Fulham, 54.3% in Kensington & 55.2% in Chelsea and Lambeth.
“The other guarantee that parents and families will want is that when they get to school, their children will be taught by a permanent teacher and not a temporary one. NAHT's Leaky Pipeline report into teacher recruitment shows that 81% of teaching vacancies were difficult to fill, with schools failing to recruit in 18% of cases. This means more and more children being taught by supply teachers, or by temporary cover from senior leaders.
"Whilst the secondary pupil population is rising, the number of teachers in secondary schools has fallen by 5%, from 219,000 in 2010 to 208,200 in 2016. This means bigger classes, less individual attention for children and uncertainty about whether all subjects in the curriculum are viable.
"DfE data about new teacher recruits shows that they have missed their targets for five consecutive years. There were 34% fewer applications to teacher training in 2017 than 2016.
“This is an issue which isn’t going away. Until the government gets a grip on where new school places are needed and takes responsibility for recruitment across all areas of the country the annual anxious wait for families will always be a problem.”
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