Latest Public Sector News

29.02.16

Councils need powers back as baby boom threatens school places – LGA

Councils will not be able to fulfil their legal duty to offer every child a secondary school place unless the government gives them more power over school planning, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

The Department for Education predicts the secondary school population will hit 3.3 million by 2024 due to an increase in the birth rate, a rise of 20% from the present amount of 2.7 million.

The LGA has called for the government to reverse its policy of taking power over schools away from local authorities, and to give them more power to compel the increasingly popular academy schools to offer more places and to open new maintained schools in areas of need.

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.

“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.”

The LGA also said they were concerned that free schools will struggle to find sponsors within their area, and called for funding allocations to be provided in five-year blocks to allow councils to work with local schools to financially plan long-term.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We would encourage councils to work with regional schools commissioners, using their combined local knowledge, to identify top sponsors for new schools in their area, and we are confident there are enough quality sponsors to meet demand.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said it is “ridiculous” to exclude the one body that has local knowledge, effective strategic oversight and democratic accountability.

“It is only government that appears to be oblivious to the dreadful situation that is emerging as a consequence of their education policies. The effects are now being felt across England,” she said.

“It is quite clear that local authorities need to be given the ability and adequate funding to open new schools. Failure to do this will result in yet more chaos, children being taught in portakabins, larger class sizes and many having to take places in schools away from their neighbourhood.”

Leora Cruddas, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, added that meeting the need for so many new school places is challenging and complex.

“In some areas, for instance, there is a sheer lack of space on which to build. Additional places cannot be created overnight,” she explained. “We need a creative and co-ordinated approach and school leaders should be involved in decisions. They have the expertise and insight to know what will work and what won’t.

“Providing more school places is not just about quantity it is also about quality. This means having sufficient resources. Unfortunately, schools are facing a double-whammy of real-terms funding cuts and a teacher recruitment crisis.”

Independent schools adviser Stephen Rayner warned in a recent edition of PSE that his current research into academisation suggests it “may not be as straightforward” as hoped.

Last year, the LGA warned that schools could be pushed to “breaking point” by the cost of providing extra places.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

14/11/2019Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

Public Sector Executive’s Matt Roberts explains how living in a modern, interconnected world, as we do, means public sector organisations cannot afford to ignore the rol... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >