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LEA wants to increase school size

(17 Posts)
IndigoBell Sat 11-Dec-10 18:31:39

Our LEA is trying to increase the size of our school from a 3 form entry to a 4 form entry.

The school, parents and governors all don't want the school to expand (because we won't have the playing space for that many kids).

Does anyone know, if our school became an acadamy could the LEA still force it to expand??????

prh47bridge Sat 11-Dec-10 23:22:09

The LA cannot force an academy to expand.

admission Sun 12-Dec-10 20:33:24

I agree with PRH that an academy would be able to make it very difficult for the LA to expand the school.
However I would suggest that actually that is a completely wrong reason for considering becoming an Academy.
I think the school should be realistic about the request from the LA. They are in the best possible situation to get a good deal at the moment. Playing space can usually be found if you are creative, as can an extended hall, staff room and other rooms necessary to accomodate what will be 7 extra classrooms including staff and resources.
The alternative is actually a new school. if the LA get the brush off from you then they have no alternative but to look towards a new school. The outcome of a new school that thrives may not be the outcome you want, as parents desert your school for the new school! So there is more to think about than another form of entry in the school!

admission Sun 12-Dec-10 20:35:15

Sorry forgot to say, any application to become an academy does include the need to agree the size of the school with the DfE. Which of course may also not be the answer you are looking for!

IndigoBell Sun 12-Dec-10 21:45:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IndigoBell Mon 13-Dec-10 12:14:19

Thanks for your answers.

The LEA does have to create more school places for the predicted intake. But it does not have to create them in our school.

Not sure why we should be concerned about parents choosing a different school than ours? The purpose of a school is to provide a great education for the children it has - not to be popular.

But as the LEA is so sure that the whole borough will need an awful lot more places than it currently has - falling rolls are not anyone's concern at the moment.

GiddyPickle Mon 13-Dec-10 13:34:41

Indigo - but I bet all other local schools feel the same. Unless any of them are in the positon of havig lots of spare places or lots of extra room to provide new facilities in which case it is unlikely the LEA would have asked you.

In our area some schools took the view that it was better to jump than be pushed ie they accepted the request, negotiated good funding and help etc rather than holding out and eventually being forced to expand on the LEA's terms.

There are a lot of areas where primary demand is predicted to soar (based on birthrates and movement of families into some areas) and schools do need to address this rather than pulling up the bridges. Your school has a responsibility to the wider community not just the children currently enrolled.

IndigoBell Mon 13-Dec-10 14:34:02

Giddy - while the LEA wants to paint a black and white picture like you described, in reality there are a lot of options which have not been considered.

Your schools had a choice of 'jumping' or 'being pushed' - so you are obviously in a different LEA to me....

At the moment becoming an academy to escape the LEA's heavy handed tactics looks like a good option.

GiddyPickle Mon 13-Dec-10 15:08:13

It isn't black and white here either and it wasn't actually our school that decided to jump before being pushed. Our school is one that is holding out and refusing but it looks like at the very least we might be forced to accept a "bulge" class ie a one off extra class.

Even that is controversial though as we have a sibling rule so there will be 90 children eligible to have siblings apply in following years but only be 60 spaces in other year groups so depending on the age range / number of siblings, having a sibling alone won't guarantee a school place for some. A permanent change to 90 would mean no siblings losing out but stretched resources / less playground space etc . Its all got quite complicated and I don't think there are easy answers. Although it sounds as if you are alluding to the fact that your area is differnt and has space / money to build a whole new school. That isn't the case here. Existing schools will have to expand.

IndigoBell Mon 13-Dec-10 16:24:23

A new 3 form entry is definitely going to be built around the corner from our school. And we are happy to accept a bulge year. But the LEA won't agree this.

nlondondad Tue 14-Dec-10 22:48:12

Your school does NOT have to expand just because the LEA wants it to. Your Governing Body would have to agree.

What do the Governors think?

I would comment by the way that I would oppose becoming a four form entry school. Too big. Two form is the best size. Three form can be made to work.

prh47bridge Wed 15-Dec-10 00:31:20

Nlondondad - The LA sets the admission number for LA schools, NOT the governing body. If the LA wants to make a school expand it can do so simply by setting a higher admission number. The school can object to the Schools Adjudicator but the published guidance suggests that the Adjudicator will generally side with the LA due to its role as the strategic commissioner of school places. So if the LA wants an LA school to expand it will almost certainly have to do so regardless of the views of the governing body.

nlondondad Thu 16-Dec-10 19:42:06

The Governing Body has a legal duty of care for the welfare of the children in the school. Moreover the school cannot be expanded without extra building work carried out, what presumes, by the LEA.

The GB citing the duty of care can say that it refuses to accept the additional children, objects to any increase in the admission number and start the a statutory consultation to become a trust school.

The LA may have the statutory power to set the number higher tho' I must say that is news to me. But actually exercising it, if they have it, against the marshalled will of a school community, would carry a political price.

I have never heard of a school being forced to expand.

School expansions I know of, from one form to two, or from two to three have always, in my experience had the consent of the GB.

IndigoBell Thu 16-Dec-10 21:27:41

I'm on the governing body. We (and the HT and parents) have objected at every consultation and every stage.

The LEA are just going ahead regardless. They don't care about the policital price.

What is a trust school? Is that like an acadamy?

Any advice about how we can fight this would be truly appreciated.

IndigoBell Thu 16-Dec-10 21:40:12

Googling trust schools I found the following:

A trust school is not:

•Separated from the local authority
•Able to avoid local authority reorganisation plans

So looks like the LEA would still have the authority to force the school to expand...

prh47bridge Thu 16-Dec-10 22:32:11

The governing body can object all they like but the fact remains that the LA has the power to set the admission number and the guidelines for the Schools Adjudicator suggest that, in any disagreement over admission number, the LA will generally win. If the politicians get involved they would probably calculate that the backlash from having insufficient school places would be a lot worse than the backlash from forcing a school to expand when it doesn't want to. Of course, a concerted campaign in the local press may persuade them otherwise as may the threat of the school becoming an academy.

nlondondad Thu 16-Dec-10 22:36:16

Looks like becoming an academy is your best option.

A four form entry primary school is too big.

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