Headteachers’ leaders have called for an end to the “haphazard” system for creating new school places as thousands of parents discover today whether their child has got into their first choice of primary.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT heads' union, has called on the government to create a national strategy to ensure there are enough school places for every child in the country.
He warned that an extra 654,000 school places will be needed by 2026 and said there was a desperate need for long-term planning.
Mr Whiteman said: “The problem is that local authorities are responsible for ensuring sufficient school places, but the powers and resources necessary for them to do so have been removed.
“In an increasingly fragmented school system, we lack a coordinated approach to place planning. Instead, it’s haphazard; decisions are being made in isolation and new schools and new school places are not always being commissioned in the areas they are most needed.
“The government’s own figures show that an extra 654,000 school places will be needed in England by 2026 to meet the 9 per cent rise in pupil population. There is a desperate need for long-term planning that spans all sectors.”
The Department for Education said that 825,000 extra school places had been created since 2010 and that last year, 90 per cent of pupils were offered their first choice of primary school.
School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “This morning, thousands of pupils and their parents will find out which primary school they will be going to this September. Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, academic standards in our primary schools are rising across the country.”
He added: “A good primary school education lays the foundations for success at secondary school and beyond, so it is right that we help make sure every child reaches their potential from the moment they start their education.
"That’s why we’re investing £5.8 billion to create even more good schools and good school places – building on the 825,000 we’ve created since 2010 – resulting in 9 out of 10 pupils securing one of their top three choices of schools.”