Secondary School Offer Day: Parents Warned About Shortage Of School Places

Parents Warned About Shortage Of Secondary School Places On National Offer Day

Children across England are learning what secondary school they will be attending from September 2016 today (Tuesday 1 March).

Although this is a day of excitement for many, councils have warned that many children are likely to miss out on a desired place at their first choice of school.

The Local Government Association has issued a fresh call for local authorities to be handed the ability to open new secondary schools, or force academies - which are not under council control - to expand.

The organisation has argued that without these powers, councils will not be able to meet their legal duty to ensure every child has a school place in the future.

Primary schools in England have been struggling to keep up with demand in recent years due to a rising population, according to PA, and this is now moving through into secondary schools.

Children will be finding out which secondary school they will be attending in September 2016

In 2015, around one in six children did not get a spot at their first choice of secondary school.

There were 54,600 appeals against school allocations - 3.7% of the total number of admissions to state schools. Just over a fifth (22.8%) of the appeals actually heard by a panel were decided in favour of the parents.

The Government has said it pumped £5 billion into creating half a million new places over the last parliament and has committed a further £7 billion over the next six years.

Speaking about National Offer Day, Justine Roberts, chief executive of parenting website Mumsnet, said while many families are happy with the place their child is given, others are left feeling anxious and struggling to find a spot at the school they want for their child.

She said, according to PA: "How well the school admissions system works depends almost entirely on where you live.

"Lots of parents are very content with the school places allocated to their children, but in some areas - parts of London, Bristol, East Sussex and Birmingham, for example - the admissions system is starting to feel seriously creaky.

"Stories abound of some families cheating the system, which only adds to people's anxiety and sense of injustice; many Mumsnet users say that their children can't get into schools that are a few hundred metres away from their front doors.

"Parents are struggling, and the consensus on Mumsnet is that more needs to be done by central and local government to address the problems now."

Families who do not win a place at their favoured school can appeal, and one admissions expert said more are now willing to take that step, and get legal help to do so.

Matt Richards, of legal advice firm, said: "A few years ago out of 10 phone calls to us, maybe two would pay for some help. Now it's more like 50%.

"People are much more switched on in terms of their legal rights and in terms of not wanting to do it on their own and asking for help."

Schools minister Nick Gibb said, according to PA: "We want every parent to be able to send their children to a good local school. Despite rising pupil numbers the vast majority of parents are able to do so.

"The Government is investing billions of pounds creating new schools and new school places and through our free schools programme we want to open 500 more new schools during the five years of this parliament."


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