Council bosses reassure parents over South Tyneside school places

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Council bosses reassure parents over South Tyneside school places

A looming crisis appears to be on the horizon in education, with new analysis of Government figures suggesting nearly half of councils in England and Wales risk being unable to meet demand for secondary school places within the next five years.

A squeeze on school places is already apparent, with parents lodging more than 60,000 appeals this year after their children were denied places at favoured schools.

The LGA said councils urgently need to be given powers to force academies and free schools to expand if additional places are needed in a local area and voluntary agreement can not be reached. It wants new powers for the government to force the expansion of academies and free schools, which are now free from local authority control.

Councillor Richard Watts, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: "Councils have worked hard to help create nearly 600,000 additional primary places since 2010".

This was less of a problem when it was primary places that were needed as the majority are still under council oversight.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: "Planned increases in capacity at some Hartlepool primary and secondary schools - based on future housing development projections for the town - aim to ensure that children and young people living in Hartlepool also have a school place in Hartlepool".

Councils are also generally banned from opening new schools, except in very rare circumstances.

"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".

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "These figures are thoroughly misleading".

"We have allocated £5.8bn of basic need funding between 2015 and 2020 to enable them to do this, and over 735,000 additional pupil places were created between 2010 and 2016".

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