Secondary schools face crisis with place shortages, local government leaders warn

'Transition Day' when new pupils joined Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary School in 2016. Picture: Swa

'Transition Day' when new pupils joined Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary School in 2016. Picture: Swanlea School - Credit: Swanlea

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.

'Transition Day' when new pupils joined Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary School in 2016. Picture: Swa

'Transition Day' when new pupils joined Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary School in 2016. Picture: Swanlea School - Credit: Swanlea

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

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

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

Tower Hamlets 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.


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

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“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.”

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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