September 2008 represents the start of the first school year since compliance with the School Admissions Code became a statutory requirement. The code and related admissions legislation help ensure that school places are awarded openly and fairly. During the summer we will be consulting on a number of measures that will further strengthen the code and enhance the admissions process. As with all policies it is important to have a clear picture of their impact and we will be carrying out a comprehensive review of all aspects of the admissions process in the future. We have no plans to commission any research into any links between the housing market and school places.
(2) what financial support from his Department is available to local authorities which experience an unexpected increase in demand for primary school places; and if he will make a statement.
Capital investment for primary schools is allocated by a number of factors, including pupil numbers and pupil growth. Local authorities can also request extra capital, if they have exceptional pupil growth; we have just made such allocations to four local authorities to cover the next three years. As regards unexpected increases in demand, we would expect local authorities to reprioritise within their overall capital allocations from central Government. Government support for local government investment programmes is at unprecedented levels, and includes £1.9 billion extra in the next three years through the Primary Capital Programme.
(2) which bodies are responsible for providing statistics, data and advice for local authorities planning the future provision of primary school places; and if he will make a statement;
(3) when the data sources and analytical frameworks for predicting the future demand for primary school age children by local authorities were last reviewed for their accuracy; and if he will make a statement;
(4) what factors are taken into account by his Department when forecasting future demand for primary school places; and if he will make a statement.
Planning for future provision of school places is the statutory responsibility of local authorities (LAs). It is for each LA to ensure there are sufficient school places to meet the needs of the population and to review the position regularly. The Department has published guidance to help LAs make accurate projections of pupil numbers on a rolling three-year basis for school funding purposes. The guidance is available at:
However, the Department is currently looking at LA forecasting methodologies for future medium and longer term pupil place requirements with a view to developing best practice guidance to help LAs forecast as accurately as possible. Each LA is responsible for researching its own advice, data and statistics for the planning of future provision.