No place for 8,800 pupils in just five years’ time Warning over looming shortage of city secondary school places
THOUSANDS of Birmingham children face missing out on a secondary school place in the next five years because the city may not be able to meet demand.
Analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils across the country, reveals that 8,800 Birmingham children will miss out on a secondary school place by 2023/24 as a result of the surge in pupil numbers, unless new places are created.
The LGA says the country faces a secondary school places “emergency” unless government gives councils the powers to open schools or direct academies to expand.
Councillor Anntoinette Bramble, chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “The number of pupils is growing at a far faster rate than the number of places available.”
The Government said it was already spending £23 billion to ensure every child has access to a good school.
Local councils are obliged to ensure every child has a school place, and they’re expanding schools to keep up with pupil numbers.
But the problem, according to the LGA, is that many secondary schools are now academies or free schools, and local councils have no powers to order them to expand.
Birmingham is one of 25 councils across the country that is set to run out of secondary school places by 2020/21.
It will be 1,199 places short in that year, according to the LGA, and the shortfall will increase to 8,800 by 2023/24.
To address this, the LGA is calling for government to let councils open new traditional council schools, known as maintained schools, and to give them the power to tell free schools and academies to expand.
Cllr Bramble said: “Councils need to be given the powers to help solve this crisis. As a starting point they should be allowed to open new maintained schools and direct academies to expand. It makes no sense for councils to be given the responsibility to plan for school places but then not allowed to open schools themselves.
“It is only by working with councils, rather than shutting them out, that primary growing we can meet the challenges currently facing the education system.”
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “This Government has driven the largest creation in school places in two generations and by 2020, there will be one million more new places across the school system than there were in 2010. We are spending £23 billion by 2021 to ensure every child has access to a good school place and since 2010, 43,000 fewer pupils are being taught in overcrowded schools. Our latest admissions data shows that 93.8 per cent of children received offers from one of their top three choice of secondary school last year.”
Research by Labour suggests more primary school children are being taught in large classes. More than 47,000 children across the West Midlands in Key Stage 2 – which usually means aged seven to 11 – are taught in classes with more than 30 pupils and just one teacher, according to an anlysis of Department of Education statistics.
This is up 2011. from 30,000 pupils in
> The number of pupils in Birmingham is growing at a faster rate than the number of places available in schools