16 April 2015
Commenting on the school places allocations due today, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Since state education began, governments have had two essential responsibilities: to train and employ a sufficient number of teachers, and to secure school places for all pupils who require them. The signs of a crisis in teacher supply are already unmistakeable. Today’s news that 20,000 children are being denied a place at any of their preferred schools is one more piece of evidence that the government has failed also to match pupil demand to an adequate supply of places.
“This situation could have been avoided by allowing councils to build and run schools in areas where additional school places are needed. Instead the Government has poured money and resources into the wasteful and indulgent free schools programme. Overall the Government allocated £1.7bn of capital funding for free schools up to 2014-15 and yet, according to evidence provided to the Education Select Committee “35% of the first four waves of free schools were in districts with no forecast need and 52% were in districts with either no forecast need or only moderate need.”
“The Coalition’s obsession with free schools and its attempts to run 25,000 schools from Whitehall has done little to counter the growing school places crisis. It is obvious that whichever party or parties forms the next government must produce sufficient funding and powers for local authorities to open more schools. It is only through those measures that demand can be met.”