DfE boasting about school places sidelines LA contribution to more capacity

Janet Downs's picture

‘This Government is already undertaking a huge expansion in school places, with one million new places on track to be created this decade.’  Lord Agnew, 11 April

 ‘…the Government is on track to deliver an extra one million school places nationwide in the decade to 2020.’  Department for Education 28 March

These press releases imply the Government alone is responsible for the increase in the number of school places since 2010.  But it isn’t correct to say the Government is solely responsible for this additional capacity.

The DfE was right to say statistics show the total number of new school places created in England since 2010 is 921,000.  Local authorities (LAs) will be partly responsible for this.   

The Government has ignored its own data.   DfE statistics say, ‘Local authorities have reported that they are planning to create 157,000 additional mainstream places between 2018/19 and 2020/21.’    

Data for LA planned places isn’t available before 2015 but a trawl through documents produced by the DfE show the number of LA planned places. 

Let’s look at these local authority planned school places in more detail:

185,000 additional mainstream places between 2017/18 and 2019/20.’* 

211,000 additional mainstream places between 2016/17 and 2018/19.’**

122,298  LA places planned for 2015/16***     

There is, of course, some overlap between the years above.  Estimates change yearly and we don’t know how many places materialised.  But it’s safe to assume that many of them did.  And there would also have been LA places provided between 2010 and 2015. 

The Government is being disingenuous when it claims it alone is responsible for additional school places in England since 2010.    The much-maligned local authorities quietly played a large part.


* School Capacity 2016/2017 commentary, published March 2018.

** School Capacity 2015/16, published April 2017

*** 2015 capacity tables (Table A7), published March 2016,

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Jane's picture
Fri, 12/04/2019 - 12:55

And will these extra places cater for all those children who have been "off rolled" by academies in order that the trust can pretend that they have improved educational standards?

Jane's picture
Fri, 12/04/2019 - 13:00

Note: this is only about those who have been excluded not those which have been "off rolled":
"Following a recent Education Committee evidence hearing on the link between knife crime and school exclusions, Chair of the Committee Robert Halfon, has written to Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, setting out concerns about the approach of schools to exclusions and the poor quality of alternative provision for excluded pupils."

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