“Since 2010 councils have created more than 800,000 extra new places, and more than 85 per cent of these were in schools rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding."
Responding to new statistics on primary and secondary school offers Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“Since 2010 councils have created more than 800,000 extra new places, and more than 85 per cent of these were in schools rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding.
“This is a demonstrable record that they are doing everything they can to rise to the challenge of ensuring no child goes without a place and receives a high quality education.
“However as we have previously warned, these figures show demand is reducing in primary schools but increasing in secondary schools. With nearly 70 per cent of secondary schools now academies or free schools, the lack of any council power or influence over the expansion and admissions policies of academies and free schools is a real concern.
“Councils must be given powers to force schools to expand if local agreement cannot be reached voluntarily where this is in the best interests of new and existing pupils. Most academies will be keen to work with their local authorities, but in the minority of situations where this isn’t the case, appropriate powers are vital to ensure all children get a suitable place.
“Councils should also have the lead role in judging and approving applications for new free schools to make sure they’re appropriate for communities, and will need to be able to place vulnerable children in the schools that can offer them the best support.
“In addition, they need to be given the powers and funding to open new council-maintained schools where there is a need for additional places. It also makes no sense for councils to be given the responsibility to plan for school places but then not allowed to open schools themselves.”