Mark Whitehead 01 September 2017

Half of councils unable to meet demand for secondary school places in five years

A growing number of families will face problems finding a place for their child at a secondary school, local government leaders have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says a looming shortage of secondary places can only be tackled if councils are given powers to force academies and free schools to expand and to build new schools where they are needed.

It says half of councils risk being unable to meet rising demand for places in the next five years as a boom in numbers reaches the secondary sector.

Analysis of Department for Education figures and local pupil forecasts shows more than 125,000 children could missing out on a secondary school place by 2022/23.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: 'If we are to avoid this looming secondary school places crisis, councils need to be able to force existing academy schools to expand if voluntary agreement is impossible and must be given back powers to open new maintained schools themselves.'

However, a Department for Education spokesperson said: 'Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that there is a school place available for every child.

'We have allocated £5.8bn of basic need funding between 2015 and 2020 to enable them to do this, and over 735,000 additional pupil places were created between 2010 and 2016.

'This money is given to councils based on their own estimates of the number of places they will need.'

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