”The growing concerns of Tory MPs and council leaders are being relayed to ministers by the Conservative-led Local Government Association, which is calling on the government to hand back powers to councils so that they can expand schools or open new ones. The alternative, it says, will be a crisis of provision across the country.
Such a move would require a major U-turn in government policy. In the last parliament Michael Gove, while education secretary, imposed restrictions on councils’ ability to force academies to expand, arguing that headteachers should be free to run their schools as they wished.
He also said that where new schools were needed, councils should seek sponsors for “free schools” – which are funded by central government but not run by the local education authority.
Last week, however, Cheryl Gillan, the MP for Chesham and Amersham, whose constituency is experiencing rapid housing growth, was one of several Tories to voice concerns in parliament. She said Buckinghamshire county council had warned that it could not “provide the key infrastructure that is required for new schools and additional places”.”
”Other Tory MPs who voiced concerns about looming shortages of places in their areas were Steve Baker (Wycombe) and Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton). Nick Gibb, the schools minister, insisted that enough money was being provided to councils to ensure sufficient school places.
The shadow education secretary, Lucy Powell, said: “With such big rises in demand, the provision of new places needs proper planning and co-ordination.”
GR Comment: ”This is what comes of taking education out of local democratic control and handing it to Tory donors, pushy parents and megalomaniacal head teachers masquerading as ‘business leaders’.” Agree totally.