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Secondary schools face placing shortage when primary children move on, LGA warns

PUBLISHED: 13:44 04 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:59 07 September 2017

Poplar 's newly-expanded Woolmore Primary School opened by Tower Hamlets Council in 2015. Picture: Rehan Jamil

Poplar 's newly-expanded Woolmore Primary School opened by Tower Hamlets Council in 2015. Picture: Rehan Jamil

© Rehan Jamil

Education authorities are at risk of being unable to meet demand for secondary school places in the next five years, the Local Government Association warns.

Tower Hamlets Council has been coping with the East End’s rising population by such expansions like Poplar’s Woolmore Primary to meet the demand from the massive Blackwall Reach development.

But the LGA is concerned about what happens when youngsters are ready to move up to secondary education.

Pupil forecasts show thousands of children up and down the country face missing out on a secondary place by 2022.

Local authorities need to be given powers to force academies and free schools to expand if voluntary agreement cannot be reached, the LGA said.

“The squeeze on places is now about to hit secondary schools,” LGA’s Children and Young People Board Chair Richard Watts predicts.

“Councils have helped create 600,000 more primary places since 2010—but securing new secondary places as those children move on is becoming increasingly difficult.

“Most secondary schools are now academies, leaving councils working with one hand behind their back to get pupils a place at their first choice.”

A surge in demand for primary places has been largely met by expanding council-maintained schools.

But the LGA analysis reveals that now more secondary school places need to be created, with at least 12 local authorities facing a shortfall next year, 23 the year after and to 66 areas by 2022-23, with nearly two-thirds of Britain’s secondary schools now switched to independent academies.

The LGA is calling for local education authorities to be given back powers to open new schools themselves while also forcing academies to expand to provide the places needed, if voluntary agreement is impossible.

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