Call for councils to be able to open new schools

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LEEDS CITY Council said it was working on a series of school expansions to cope with demand for places after the latest application figures showed a big increase.

The authority has had to allocate 421 more secondary school places to 11-year-olds from this September and the level getting into their first choice has fallen. Parents and pupils discovered yesterday which school they had been allocated to.

This shows the need for councils to be able to open up schools ourselves to meet demand

Figures show 83 per cent of pupils, 6,603 in total, were placed into their first choice school – down five per cent from last year. The numbers not being given any of their preferred options has increased from 1.9 per cent to 4.5 per cent.

Coun Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services said the figures showed the need for local councils to be able to open up schools to meet demand. At present education authorities can only apply to the Government run competitions to open up academies but cannot open new schools themselves.

Paul Brennan, the council’s deputy director of children’s services, said because of this the council was carrying out a programme of school expansions to ensure sufficient places would be available.

He also said the council’s admissions team will be working closely with schools and families to find alternative places for those children who did not get any of their preferences or who refused their allocated place.

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