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.
Thousands of children miss out on first-choice secondary school
Almost half of children in areas of highest demand fail to get offer from preferred school as admissions numbers rise
Tens of thousands of children have failed to get into their first choice of secondary school, with almost half of children in some London boroughs losing out as councils scramble to provide enough places to meet growing demand.
At the end of national offer day on Tuesday, when more than half a million children in their final year of primary school find out which secondary school they will be attending in September, thousands learned they had not got into any of their six chosen schools.
Local authorities reported increases in demand for places as the spike in the birth rate, which has been putting pressure on the primary sector, began to take its toll on secondary schools.
Some parents living in areas of high demand said their children could not get into schools a few hundred metres away from their front doors.
The situation was particularly acute in London, where schools are grappling with a 3.3% increase in demand for school places this year. According to the pan-London admissions board, 31% of children failed to get into their first-choice school, though 89% were offered a place at one of their top three choices.
Secondary schools in London are ‘most overcrowded in the country’
One in five London secondaries is now full or over capacity, making schools in the capital the most overcrowded in the country, according to figures released today.
They show 19.6 per cent of secondary schools in London are full (1.1 per cent) or over capacity (18.5 per cent), ahead of those in the South-East on 18 per cent and the West Midlands on 17.2 per cent.
The figures, obtained by Labour mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan, show big discrepancies between different boroughs. In Kingston-upon-Thames and Redbridge, half of secondary schools are at or over capacity.
In Kensington & Chelsea, Merton, Tower Hamlets, Haringey and Wandsworth the figure is 36 per cent, while Hackney, Lambeth and Newham have no issues.
The House of Commons Library figures were released to coincide with National Offer Day, the day families learn if their child has been given a place at their favoured secondary school.
Ofsted to manage early years inspections directly
Watchdog will bring scrutiny of early years in-house from next year so that it has greater control
Ofsted is to manage its own early years inspections directly, it was announced today.
The watchdog will be bringing its early years inspections and regulatory work in-house from April 2017, when existing contracts run out.
At the moment, two external companies, Tribal and Prospects, undertake early years inspections on Ofsted’s behalf. Their contracts will run until 31 March 2017.
About 300 inspectors will be affected by the change.
Ofsted has said that bringing early years inspections under direct management means that the inspectorate will have full control over the selection, training and management of inspectors, as well as over the quality of inspections.
Nick Jackson, director of corporate services at Ofsted, said: “We have decided that early years inspection should be brought in line with schools and further education and skills, with Ofsted directly managing all inspections.”
Last September, Ofsted switched to employing all its school inspectors directly. It had previously been using about 3,000 inspectors employed by outside contractors.
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