“There is a very simple solution to the school places crisis which the National Education Union is calling for. Local authorities must have their powers to open new schools restored – it beggars belief that while councils have a legal duty to ensure there are sufficient school places locally, Conservative reforms mean they no longer have the power to open new local authority maintained schools. In addition, councils must have the authority to direct academies and free schools to expand where they have capacity – a power they do have in respect of maintained schools.
“The National Education Union thinks that the free school programme is an irrational and inefficient mechanism for delivering school places. Time and again we have seen free schools opening where no additional places are needed, at vast expanse to taxpayers, while other areas that are desperate for places see no providers coming forward. Many academies and free schools have, in addition, stubbornly refused to expand– relinquishing their responsibility to local families.
“The school places crisis will not be resolved unless action is taken to correct these damaging policy failures. The market place is failing education and the Secretary of State has a responsibility to step in and take the necessary steps to ensure that all families have access to the secondary school places they desperately need within their local community.”