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NAHT comments on secondary school places offer day

Today (Monday 2 March), parents discover whether they have got their first choice of secondary 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: “This can be an anxious time for families. Choosing the right secondary school and securing a place there can feel like a battle for parents.

“The problem is that in an increasingly fragmented school system we lack a co-ordinated approach to place planning. Local authorities are responsible for ensuring sufficient school places, but the powers and resources necessary for them to do so have been removed. Instead planning is haphazard; decisions are being made in isolation and new schools and new school places are not always being commissioned in the areas they are most needed.

“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.

“Until the government creates a national strategy to guarantee there are enough school places for every child in England, the annual anxious wait for families will continue.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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