Academy land at risk in pupil places crisis

Academies face being forced to sign land over to the government so that new schools can be built to tackle the growing pupil places crisis, TES can reveal.

Changes to funding agreements mean the Department for Education now has the power to compel academies to give up parts of their grounds, as schools struggle to cope with the increase in pupil numbers.

The prospect is likely to be a major concern for academy headteachers across London, the South East and other big cities, where pressure on places is reaching a “tipping point”, according to the Local Government Association.

Nationally, an extra 450,000 new places are needed over the next five years, with approximately 900,000 needed in the next decade.

Lawyers said the DfE had ushered in the changes “almost through the back door” by altering the funding agreements of all new academies.

But the department, which has put £7.35 billion of funding into creating more school places and has promised a further £1.6 billion by 2018, said the move was necessary to ensure “the best use of public land”.

“This change to academies’ funding enables us to work with new academies with surplus land to explore ways of using it to meet demand for places in the area,” a spokesman said.

To read the full story get the 13 February edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

Related stories: 

Schools pushed to 'breaking point' over squeeze on places, says LGA – 13 January 2015

School places crisis: Councils forced to borrow millions to meet shortfall – 13 March 2014

School places: Councils forced to cancel repairs to plug £1 billion black hole – 27 August 2014

NUT research: Two in five reception pupils in parts of London will not have a school place available by 2016 – 16 September 2013 

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