Latest Public Sector News

17.04.15

Head teachers call for local agency to commission school places

A local agency able to commission both new schools and places across maintained, academy and free schools is needed, the NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) has claimed. 

The comment came as more than half a million families discovered which primary schools their children will attend in September. Early estimates suggested that nationally up to one in six pupils missed out on their first choice of school in some areas. 

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Since 2011, the powers of local authorities in planning school places have been significantly reduced without an alternative system to take their place. We have a balkanised system with authorities, academies and central government taking decisions in isolation. 

“The government’s own figures show they are expecting that at least 200,000 more primary school places and 80,000 more secondary school places will be needed in the next five years. The Local Government Association puts the cost of creating all the necessary places over the next decade at £12bn. 

“There is a desperate need for long-term planning that spans all sectors. Until some agency at the local or regional level has the information and the authority to prioritise school places where they are most needed, parents and children will always be unsure that the system will give them what they want.” 

The Pan-London Admissions Board revealed that despite ‘unprecedented’ pressure on places, more than 95% of London pupils have been offered a place at one of their preferred primary schools. 

London boroughs alone received 103,387 applications for places this year – a record number of applications for the capital and up 900 from last year. 

Around 99,000 pupils received a place at one of their six preferred schools this year – up 1,100 and half a percentage point from last year. Of those, 81% got into their first preference school and 93% got into one of their top three schools. 

Helen Jenner, chair of the Pan-London Admissions Board, said: “Despite the fact that boroughs received a record number of applications for primary school places, more pupils have been offered a place of their choice than ever before. 

“As London’s pupil population continues to grow, creating more places will become increasingly difficult. Long-term planning and funding is needed to help avert a crisis in the future." 

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