Time for school approaches

As schools start to gear up for the new term, interest begins to focus on whether there will be any pupils that won’t have a school place at any school. this September? This would be the result of the increased number of children expected to start school this autumn. Hopefully, such an outcome will be unlikely, even for late applicants, because councils have been aware of the expected growth in the school population for a number of years now. Of course the outcomes won’t be satisfactory for everyone. Some pupils will be taught in temporary classrooms, and Barking & Dagenham Council in East London is apparently contemplating building schools in some of their parks, if recent press reports are to be believed. http://www.barkinganddagenhampost.co.uk/news/barking_and_dagenham_may_build_schools_in_parks_to_tackle_primary_place_crisis_1_1503807

However, not all the problems are in London. A mother in East Kent, whose child will have to be taken to school by taxi because of lack of places locally, is apparently upset at the risks such an outcome poses to her offspring. http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Broadstairs-mum-hit-schools-postcode-lottery/story-19605410-detail/story.html#axzz2dLcD7rGf If the Council has to incur that sort of costs then I would be surprised if they hadn’t exhausted every other possibility.

So far there are few examples of issues in the secondary sector where many schools are not running at close to their capacity limits because of changes in the age profile over recent years. This has meant the secondary school population has been in decline from its high reached some years ago. However, that trend won’t last, and there will be pressure on secondary school places over the next decade, especially in London and the South East.

The main anxiety for ministers outside the DfE is that the traditional system for in-year transfers will break down in the secondary sector as each school effectively becomes its own admissions authority. A well-functioning labour market no doubt needs workers to be able to transfer to jobs across the country at any time of year. For some workers with children this can mean either a move of school during the year or the parent living in rented accommodation and commuting each week. Making the task of finding a new school too challenging may put some off from moving jobs until the summer holidays. Of course, for some it might also mean that boarding schools could look more attractive, especially if there was the possibility of several moves during a child’s education. After all, this was often the justification used by many in the military for the use of boarding schools for their children.

Whatever the school pupils will be attending this September, or are already are in Scotland and parts of Northern England, my best wishes go out to you. Even if it wasn’t your parents’ first choice of school, as my primary school wasn’t over 60 years ago, may you be happy and successful there, and may you make many friends.

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