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Government 'must work with councils on school places provision'

Tue 03 Sep 2013

The government has been urged to work in partnership with councils across the country in order to make sure schools can keep up with demand for places.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), factors such as immigration and the rising birth rate mean the number of primary pupils will outweigh the number of school places in many areas in the next few years, BBC News reports.

The organisation believes the problem is being compounded by the opening of academies and free schools, as these are outside local authority control.

As a result, councils in places where there is a surplus or shortage of spaces are unable to force these schools to close down or expand accordingly.

This, it said, is in turn causing frustration for parents who live in areas where limited spaces are available, as money is being put towards creating places in free schools in locations where vacancies already exist.

The LGA has therefore called for local authorities to be given more control over how the budget for school places is spent.

Theresa Kerr, a solicitor at Winckworth Sherwood, commented: "The places shortage in primary schools has been threatening for some time to become a political headache for the government. We have been working with some primary schools who are expanding to unprecedented levels in an attempt to accommodate the extra intake. In other cases, we have been advising schools who have been required by their Local Authority to take on a bulge class with funding and capacity being major issues for them.  

"It will be interesting to see if the government publishes any proposals in response to the recent media coverage to set out its short and long term strategy for tackling this issue.”


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