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Who gets the final say re: school expansion?

(13 Posts)
yellowsubmarine41 Wed 28-Sep-11 21:01:41

Just curious, really. There are 3 schools in our LEA starting a 'consultation period' about expanding from 2 to 3 form entry in 2013. Word has it that none of the schools want this, neither do any of the current parents. Local parents living on the fringe of the catchment area to one of the very popular schools think it a great idea grin.

So, how does the 'consultation' work and is it the school or LEA that has the final say?

meditrina Wed 28-Sep-11 21:05:54

Are they free schools, academies, or bog standard state?

I think LEA would have final decision (but perhaps not for every category of school).

If there is an identified shortfall of required places in their area, then they are doing the right thing in providing more places. They'll have to go somewhere, and expanding a school is quicker, easier and much much cheaper than opening a new one.

admission Wed 28-Sep-11 21:41:18

At the end of the day the person holding the purse strings will be the one that has a significant say.
In theory the Governing Body of each school would be required to agree the expansion but in reality if they are community schools the LA will have the final say. If I was on the GB of such a school I would be looking to get the best possible deal in terms of facilities rather than arguing not to expand, unless the site was patently not capable of taking the extra pupils.

yellowsubmarine41 Wed 28-Sep-11 22:30:22

They're all state community primaries.

We're in London, and I hear that limited outside space already is a key concern for 2 of the schools.

I guess it completely depends which side of the admission fence you're on as to whether you think it's a good idea or not. I'd hate my daughter's school to expand, but ultimately the priority must be to give as many children as possible a local school.

Do schools who are consulted with usually end up expanding? There was a consultation in another part of the borough for this year's entry to increase to 3 forms, although that ended up not happening.

Bert2e Wed 28-Sep-11 22:31:23

The LEA has the final say - we were expanded against our wishes 2 years ago.

CustardCake Thu 29-Sep-11 09:16:26

The shortfall of places in London is enormous and only expected to get worse (as the rising birthrate in the past few years starts to translate into rising numbers of children needing a school place every year)

It is a tricky balance. When you are applying for schools and faced with the prospect that you cannot get a place at the nice primary 5 minutes from your house and must travel instead 3 miles to another borough, school expansion is an ideal solution.
Ditto for the 1 in 3 Londoners who don't get their first choice of school as they are all so over subscribed
Ditto for the 70,000 (yes seventy thousand within 4 years - currently the shortfall is about 10,000) children who will not be able to find a local place at all within the next 4 years if we don't expand.

But of course, if you have children already in a school where suddenly lunch will be served in shifts, outdoor space limited and the whole ethos becomes bigger and less 'cosy' etc then it seems less ideal.

In reality the LEA can force it through although I think they do try to persuade schools first and try to show how they will put in measures to make it workable but ultimately an awful lot of primary schools must expand simply to keep up with the numbers of children needing a place.

prh47bridge Thu 29-Sep-11 09:35:16

In theory it is the governors but in practise the LA is the admission authority for community schools and can therefore force the issue. Academies, faith schools and free schools have more independence.

yellowsubmarine41 Thu 29-Sep-11 09:44:10

Custard, yes, I'd heard that about the predicted 70,000 shortfall of places in London in the coming few years too.

Parts of our LA are ridiculously oversubscribed and parts very undersubscribed ie had places left after allocations, but I think with primary in particular they do predictions for each ward, rather than borough wide.

chrchrch Thu 29-Sep-11 09:59:41

Look at it another way. You're responsible or providing school places for children. The demographics say unequivocally you need to build another school, but that's not going to happen, even if you stopped collecting the bins and switched off the streetlights etc etc.

So you'd spend money you don't have on a consultation exercise to let people vent off steam but in the end you're responsible for making sure as many children get a school place as you can. It's really a quite simple choice, I'm told, that's facing almost every London borough.

If only the independent sector could offer a 'value' product just like the supermarkets that LEAs can afford. Oops, that would be political suicide... so it's back to the no brainer, consult and expand.

IndigoBell Thu 29-Sep-11 10:00:49

In theory the Governing Body of each school would be required to agree the expansion - no this is not true.

The schools adjudicator has the final say smile

If the GB don't wish to expand, then they need to submit an appeal to the schools adjudicator, who will decide. He will weigh up the schools case for not expanding against the LEAs case for expanding......

However, if you're an academy then the LEA can't force you to expand. The best thing may be for your school to convert......

yellowsubmarine41 Thu 29-Sep-11 10:08:04

It isn't my school. My dd's school in currently on a notice to improve, which can have its advantages in situations like this.......

prh47bridge Thu 29-Sep-11 11:48:53

IndigoBell - Yes that is true, but for LA-controlled schools the presumption is in favour of expansion if that is what the LA wants. The school has to have an extremely strong case to avoid being forced to expand.

IndigoBell Thu 29-Sep-11 14:24:01

prh47bridge - actually the schools adjudicator was quite fair in our case and did listen to our concerns.

The schools adjudicator ruled the LEA could expand our school only if they got planning permission before a certain date - which they didn't get.

So it's still up in the air about whether or not we'll expand.

Certainly the LEA have come back with far better plans now than they started with smile

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