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News - 18 April 2014

Crises over primary school places.

Dr Mary Bousted, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, has accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of failing to ensure places are available as early figures suggest tens of thousands of pupils will not get their first choices.

However, the government said it had doubled funding for new school places to £5bn and has highlighted how it had allowed good schools to expand and said most families were getting their first choice of school.

Tonmoy Kumar, Manager of the Accounts Department of ABDS and an active school governor comments:
“Early figures suggest that a child's chances of achieving a first choice depends heavily on where they live, with almost all getting their top preference in some areas, and more than a third missing out in others.”

Dr Bousted told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) annual conference in Manchester: "We know that there is a growing crisis in primary school places and we know that the government, for all the money they say they are throwing at the problem, they simply haven't got the mechanism, they haven't got the ability, to plan school provision where it's needed. It’s no surprise that there's a crisis in primary school places, because the secretary of state, Michael Gove, has divested himself of his first key responsibility, which is to provide school places for children."

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said this month that the government was failing to create school places where they were most needed.

Natalie Evans, director of New Schools Network - which supports the opening of free schools - said they were playing a vital role in helping address both quality and quantity in primary places

However, early statistics show that in some London boroughs as few as six out of 10 children got their first choice. In Kensington & Chelsea just 61.6% (595) got their top preference, down from 65% (623) last year.

In neighbouring Hammersmith & Fulham, one in four (24.8%) children missed out on their first choice.  Across London as a whole 81% of children received their first choice, despite a 3% rise in pupil numbers.

In Bristol, 94% of children have been allocated one of their three preferences - with 82% getting their first choice. And in Manchester, where there has been population growth, 87.5% were offered their first preference school. A total of 4.5% - 303 children - were offered places at schools that they had not chosen.

In Kent and in Medway, where more children applied this year, around 85% have got their first choice.

Between 2012 and last year, primary pupil numbers grew by almost 100,000 and councils say funding has failed to keep up.

The Department for Education published information showing that the numbers in primary school rose from 3.9 million in 2012 to more than 4.01 million in 2013. And it revealed huge increases in some areas, such as Croydon, south London, where pupil numbers are expected to rise 44% between the summer of 2010 and autumn next year. In
Barking & Dagenham there is an increase of 43%.

But the figures also show how this population surge is not reflected across the whole country, with more than 430,000 vacant places last year.

If you need any help and advice with Free Schools, Academy Schools or Charities, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

Brilliant with numbers   
Great with people  
Clear and precise with advice
Timely and cost effective 
In touch with issues that face our clients
Mindful of our client’s long term strategic goals

Helping Your Business is Our Business

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