The crisis in school places is already a huge problem, especially in primaries, due mainly to local large spikes in population (it will hit the secondaries very soon).
Last year oversubscribed schools turned many children away, parents were allocated places in different schools for different children (sometimes miles apart), and children of non-religious parents were allocated places in undersubscribed religious free schools against their wishes.
These problems are particularly acute in areas of high population such as London. On this year’s national offer day, 18 April, one in six London families learned that they had failed to get a place for their child in their first choice school.
Splitting siblings between different schools is unsettling for children and a nightmare to manage for working parents needing to drop off and collect young children, especially if they have no car.
Local authorities have a legal duty to provide a school place for every child who needs one, and this is to continue, but they are not allowed to build new schools to enable them to do this. Until now, local authorities have tried to manage by expanding existing community schools. But they have no powers to do this with academies. Academies and free schools can set up willy nilly at huge cost if approved by the Department for Education, regardless of where they are and whether their places are needed locally.
This chaos will get far worse if every school is an academy, as local authorities will have no power to plan for the places they are expected to guarantee.
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