The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that there is a potential shortage of secondary school places “looming” in England, as an increased population moves up from primary school education.
LGA claims that 12 councils will be over capacity by 2018, rising to nearly half of all councils over the next five-year period, with schools nearly 8,000 places short by September 2018, and predicting 125,000 short by 2022.
However, the Department for Education (DfE) has declared the remarks made by LGA as “thoroughly misleading”.
The LGA has urged that councils should be given the power to force Academies and free schools to expand if additional places are needed in a local area and voluntary agreement cannot be reached, along with powers given back to bulk new schools in areas where they are needed if it is logistically impossible for local academies or free schools to provide the places needed.
Representing more than 370 councils in England and Wales, the LGA has previously warned of the imminent problems.
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “As the LGA has previously warned, the school places squeeze is now about to hit secondary schools. More and more families will face growing uncertainty when trying to secure their child’s secondary school without action.
“Councils have worked hard to help create almost 600,000 additional primary places since 2010. This is no small feat. However, as those children move on to secondary schools, the majority of which are now academies, securing new secondary places in the areas where they are needed is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Councils are working with one hand behind their backs to help as many pupils as possible to receive a place at their first choice school.
“If we are to avoid this looming secondary school places crisis, councils need to be able to force existing academy schools to expand if voluntary agreement is impossible and must be given back powers to open new maintained schools themselves.”