William Eichler 29 February 2016

Councils call for more powers to provide secondary school places

Council leaders want to be able to open new maintained schools or compel academies to take on more students in order to ensure every child can get a place at a secondary school.

The Local Government Association (LGA) warns that without academies agreeing to increase capacity, and without the power to open maintained schools, councils will not be able to fulfil their legal duty to ensure every child has access to a school place.

Local authorities have a duty to plan for a 20% increase in secondary school students by 2024.

Official figures show that 3,287,000 secondary school places will be needed in 2024, compared to 2,740,000 in 2015.

Cllr Roy Perry, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said:

‘Councils have a statutory duty to ensure every child has a school place available to them but find themselves in the difficult position of not being able to ensure schools, including academies, expand.

‘Finding suitable sponsors with the capacity to take on the running of a successful new school is also proving a challenge.’

He continued: ‘Councils have already created an extra 300,000 primary places, but those children will soon need to move up to secondary schools. Councils will do everything they can to rise to the challenge of ensuring no child goes without a place, but all schools must play their part too.

‘If academies are not willing to expand, then powers to create new schools should be returned to local authorities themselves if they are unable to secure high quality free school sponsors in their communities.’

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