TODAY’S WARNING about an escalating school places crisis will come as no surprise to those parents who go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that their children win a place at their preferred primary or secondary school.
They should not be blamed for wanting the very best on behalf of their sons and daughters whose future prospects depend, in part, on the quality of the education that they receive in their formative years.
And – in fairness – it’s not necessarily the fault of LEAs or the Department for Education. Many of the pressures stem from subtle shifts in population, and demographic changes, that do, in fact, take time to become apparent.
This is the context to today’s report which reveals that a further 6,844 places in primary schools, and 7,856 in secondaries, need to be found in Yorkshire by September 2021 to keep pace with projected needs. The simple solution is to build more schools. Yet, while this will be necessary in those areas earmarked for significant housing growth, increases in demand will not be uniform across the whole region.
However the answer, in part, can be found in those schools that have, for whatever reason, significant numbers of unfilled places. If the reasons for this can be established – and the quality of teaching is likely to be a significant factor – then demand and take-up is likely to increase and ease some of the pressure on those schools that are over-subscribed. Schools are key to the success, prosperity and desirability of neighbourhoods.
For, while the debate on devolution and the Northern Powerhouse has focused on infrastructure shortcomings, there is recognition that academic standards need to improve still further. And this will only happen if every school reaches a level of academic performance that parents need only consider their local school when considering the education needs of their children.