Almost half of councils - including Leeds – risk being unable to meet demand for secondary school places within the next five years, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.
Department for Education (DfE) data and local pupil forecasts showed 125,000 children faced missing out on a secondary school place by the 2022/23 academic year, according to the body. And Leeds has emerged as facing a shortage of places, with an additional 4,057 needed by this date.
The LGA is now urgently calling for new powers that will allow councils to force academies and free schools to expand to meet any need for new places.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “Leeds is facing a shortfall in funding to provide those school places of around £80m over the next three years, which will start to show this financial year.
“We fully support the comments that local authorities need the ability to build schools and new school places need to be properly funded nationally.”
The LGA’s analysis claims 12 local authorities would face a shortfall in secondary school places from 2018/2019 without changes. That figure rises to 23 in 2019/20, 41 in 2020/21, which includes Leeds, 57 in 2021/22 and 66 in 2022/23, it argues.
Councillor Richard Watts, chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils have worked hard to help create almost 600,000 additional primary places since 2010.
“This is no small feat. However, as those children move on to secondary schools, the majority of which are now academies, securing new secondary places in the areas where they are needed is becoming increasingly difficult.”
A DfE spokesman said the figures were “thoroughly” misleading.