Newham Council warns of ‘school crisis’ unless more power is granted to town halls to provide pupil places
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Newham Council has warned of a “schools crisis” unless the government gives local authorities more power to provide enough pupil places to match demand.
According to projected figures released by the Local Government Association (LGA), Newham is facing a shortfall of 2,148 secondary places and 2,105 primary spots by 2024 and 2022 respectively.
The council is in talks with the borough’s secondary schools about which will expand over the coming years, but has called on the government to give local authorities the power to take over multi academy trusts and take over the reins at failed academies and free schools.
Being in the driving seat when commissioning new free schools would put the council in the driving seat for providing places where they are most needed and not at the detriment of existing “good and outstanding schools”.
There have also been calls from town hall for an urgent review of the system to allow schools and councils to join up funding streams in a single pot to meet the demand for new places and repair and rebuild dilapidated schools.
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“All the borough’s children have a guaranteed school place, however we know that there is a shortage of places up and down the country,” a council spokesman said.
“We like many other councils are doing all we can to meet the growing future demand for school places by expanding our primary and secondary schools.
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“This government has continued to slash education budgets and introduce policies that do not have the best interests of our children at heart. Their failure to give councils the powers or funding they need to open new schools or force academies to expand has set us on course for a schools crisis.”
Aside from government restrictions, the council has also pointed to Newham having one of the highest birth rates – although this is now on the decline – and one of the youngest populations in the capital.
The council has also highlighted the vast amounts of regeneration in the borough over the last decade, which has drummed up the amount of homes and kids needing schools. The council is then dependent on free school applications and schools being delivered as part of regeneration developments.