On national offer day (1st March) when parents find out which secondary school their child will be attending in September, new analysis published by the Labour Party reveals the strain on the system caused by the Government’s failed approach to planning for school places:
New analysis shows that more than one in eight secondary schools are already at or overcapacity. At the same time, forecasts show there will be more than 300,000 additional secondary school pupils nationally in the system by 2020. In the East Midlands, over 12 per-cent of secondary schools are currently at or over capacity.
This could see the number of ‘titan’ secondary schools bigger than 1,600 pupils increase by more than a third over this Parliament, whilst the number bigger than 2,000 could increase by two thirds.
Last year, 84,000 families did not get their preferred choice secondary school – a rise of over 7,000 on the previous year. These figures could rise again this year amid mounting pressure on school places and poor planning from the Government.
The worst affected areas in the East Midlands are Derbyshire, where nearly 29 per cent of schools are at or just over capacity and Nottinghamshire where nine per cent of schools are at or just over capacity.
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Lucy Powell MP, said:
“The Tories’ free market approach to providing new school places just isn’t working and is creating a crisis in school places. With such big rises in demand and one in six secondary schools already at or over capacity, the provision of new places needs proper planning and co-ordination. Yet this Government's fixation with Free Schools, which can be opened where there is no shortage of school places, has made it harder and harder to ensure there are enough good school places in every local area.
“It is time for Ministers to reinstate local input on planning for new places and remove the bureaucracy that councils face when it comes to opening and expanding schools. Families deserve a better approach to planning for school places, otherwise we will continue to see many more children crammed into over-large class sizes and learning in unsuitable spaces.”