Labour Party analysis shows severity of school places crisis


Figures from the Labour party show that more than half a million primary children are being taught in super-size classes as a result of a lack of school places.

"The current system for planning new places is essentially broken," said shadow education secretary Lucy Powell.

"Some families applying today will go straight on to a waiting list with no offer of any school places, and soaring numbers of children will continue to be crammed into ever-expanding classes," she said.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said lack of cohesive local planning means new schools are not always opened where there is most need. As a result, the system for creating new school places in England is fragmented and confusing, risking harm to children's education.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "The Labour Party analysis will make shocking reading for many parents.

"The blame for the shortage of school places and soaring class sizes lies at the door of the Government which has stood by and done nothing to address the problem.

"The need for more school places has been known over many years. A key duty of Government is to ensure there are sufficient school places and enough qualified teachers. The Government has failed on both thereby letting down children and parents.

"This situation could have been avoided by allowing councils to build schools in areas where additional school places are needed. The Government has poured money and resources into the wasteful and indulgent free schools programme, many opening in areas where there is no need, and many providing only a small number of places at vast cost.

"The Government must produce sufficient funding and powers for local authorities to open more schools as a matter of urgency."

Although local councils, which have a duty to ensure places for every eligible child, convey the details of offers of places to parents, they do not have the power to create new schools. And with places in short supply in many areas, the pressure is continuing to mount on the admissions system.

Meanwhile, the Department for Education said 95% of parents had received an offer at one of their top three preferred schools last year, while the average infant class size had remained stable.

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