Crisis looming over school places according to town hall bosses

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A THIRD of local councils may not have enough secondary school places to meet demand in five years time, the Local Government Association has warned.

In a new report it suggests securing enough new secondary places is becoming a significant issue.

Local councils have been attempting to created tens of thousands of primary school places amid a surge in demand, fuelled in part by a rapidly rising birth rate. But as pupils grow up, the need to ensure secondary schools are big enough to cope with demand becomes increasingly pressing, the LGA said. Despite the Government pledging £2.35bn at the end of last year to fund new school places, local councils are still facing problems as there is not enough cash or space to make them, it suggested in an analysis of official figures.

This September three authorities will have this problem, doubling to six next year (2014/15). By 2019/20 an estimated 49 councils will have more pupils of secondary school age than there are places if action is not taken, the LGA said.

It added that overall, by 2019/20, a third of local councils will need to be able to offer a total of 80,716 new secondary places.

The LGA’s report said that to ensure that they have enough places, either at primary or secondary levels, councils have had to take action such as borrowing money, dipping into their own resources and setting up temporary classrooms.

The association said it was calling on government to tell councils exactly how much money they will get to provide new school places over a five year period.

It also said that authorities should be given back the power to create new schools.