Boroughs should ‘have the final say’ on where new schools are built

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

In one of the first surveys of London parents since the general election, 80 per cent agree that councils should have the final say on the location of new schools within their boundaries.

The poll, carried out by YouGov on behalf of London Councils, which represents the 32 boroughs and the City of London, also revealed that 78 per cent of parents asked support councils influencing schools to expand or find more places.

Key findings from the YouGov/London Councils survey:

Decisions about new schools: 80 per cent agree that councils should have the final say on the location of schools within their boundaries.

Free schools: 63 per cent of parents asked by the survey agree that free schools should be set up in areas where local demand exceeds existing school capacity.

Location and ethos: These were the two most important factors for parents when deciding their child’s preferred schools and for one in five parents location was the most important factor.

Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ Executive member for children, skills and employment, said:

“Mums and dads in London are saying that they would welcome the government working more closely with London boroughs to ensure that every new school is built in the best possible location and existing schools are expanded where necessary.

“When you consider that 113,000 additional primary and secondary places will be needed over the next five years, there is a clear demand for intelligent school places planning that uses the expertise of London boroughs.”

The survey also showed that the majority of parents who responded still feel that local authorities should have powers of influence and intervention over academies (67 per cent agreed) and free schools (70 per cent agreed).

Parents were also asked what goals the London education system should be focusing on. The priority for 71 per cent is helping their children to become well-rounded individuals and the second most important factor is good academic achievement relative to ability, with 63 per cent indicating they value this.

For more information, visit the Education and School Places section of the website.

Notes to editors:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,002 parents of children aged 5-16 living in Greater London. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21 August and 7 September 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the London population by gender, ethnicity, social grade and inner and outer London location.

All newly-constructed schools are classed as free schools, which are overseen by central government. London boroughs can influence where they are built but they do not have formal powers to do so.

The 2011 Education Act states that councils have a statutory duty to ensure supply of places meets demand, but they do not have the right to decide to build new schools.