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Free schools in East Lancashire 'hamper plans for new places'
3:26pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
EDUCATION bosses have warned that the growth of ‘free schools’ outside council control could leave future planning in chaos.
Schools chiefs spoke out as new figures showed many English districts will have more primary pupils than places within two years The Local Government Association (LGA) said some face a 20 per cent shortfall in by 2015 because of the rising birth rate and immigration. The LGA's warning comes as the government opens 93 free schools providing 43,000 new school places.
With two possible free schools offering primary education coming on stream in the borough, Tauheedul’s Olive and Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar, education chief Dave Harling has warned of possible future problems.
Coun Harling said: “We plan for the expected number of school places needed in future years.
“However, while free schools and other alternative provision may be the preference of some parents, they do limit our ability to prepare as we have no direct control over these school places.
“This can then have a negative impact on our existing schools.”
LGA chairman David Simmonds said: “The process of opening up much-needed schools is being impaired by a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and in some cases by the presumption in favour of free schools and academies.”
Lancashire county schools boss Matthew Tomlinson said: “There are always lots of pressures affecting the placement of children in school.”
Tauheedul Foundation chief executive Hamid Patel said: “It’s undeniable that in some parts of the country there are too few primary schools places. It’s not helpful to blame this failure of planning on free schools.
“We should be looking at how school groups and local councils can plan and work together.”
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