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  1. Christine Alsford

School places: Mum's 100 miles on school run

More than sixteen thousand families will find out within the next few hours if their children have got places at the primary schools of their choice in Kent.

The statistics show that 96% will be given one of the three schools they selected in the shortlisting phase. However, more than 650 children will lose out and not achieve any of the three options they preferred.

Our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford spoke to mother-of-two Katie Smith, who faces a 100-mile a week school run after her four-year-old daughter missed out on a place at any of their local schools at Bearsted in Kent.


  1. National

NAO head: 'Real challenge' for school places

National Audit Office head Amyas Morse said:

The Department has ambitious objectives to provide school places, and to enable parents to have some choice of school for their children.

However, despite increases in places and funding over the last two years, it faces a real challenge, with 256,000 places still required by 2014/15. Furthermore, there are indications of strain on school places.

The Department needs a better understanding of costs to improve value for money, as well as a better understanding of the impact its funding contribution is having on the ground.

  1. National

Around 256,000 extra school places needed by 2014

The National Audit Office report suggests that the heightened demand for primary school places is partly down to a rising birth rate - the rise in the number of children born in England between 2001 and 2011 was the biggest 10-year increase since the 1950s.

Between 2006/07 and 2011/12, the number of four-year-olds starting reception classes rose by 16%, it says.

It warns that by September 2014, an estimated extra 256,000 primary and secondary school places will be needed to meet the demand. Of these, 240,000 are required in primary schools, with more than a third (37%) needed in London alone.

These extra places are still needed despite a net increase of almost 81,500 places which were created between 2010 and May 2012, and the DfE increasing the amount of funding it gives to local councils to provide spaces.

How many places will be required in the future is uncertain, the NAO says, but it is expected that more will be needed beyond next year.

  1. National

Real strain on school places, spending watchdog warns

Between 2006/07 and 2011/12, the number of four-year-olds starting reception classes rose by 16%. Credit: PA

Tens of thousands of extra school places will be needed by next year amid a continuing surge in demand, the spending watchdog warned today.

Despite more than 80,000 extra primary spaces being created in the last two years, there are still signs of a real strain on school places, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

It says that the Government is pumping billions of pounds into establishing more places, but suggests that the Department for Education (DfE) still needs a better understanding of the costs, and the impact its funding is having in local areas.


South East school places - full report

Thousands of children in the south east have received the news they've been anxiously waiting for today - which secondary school they'll be going to in September.

But while many are celebrating winning places at the schools of their choice, for hundreds there has been bitter disappointment.

In Kent, 357 children missed out on a place at any of the three schools they had picked.

In East Sussex, a much smaller authority it was just 50. But are people making their decisions based purely on good exam results? Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports.

She speaks to Tina Bora, a mother who's daughter Daniella is going to secondary school in September, John Toland, Principal Mayfield Academy, Stuart Gardner, Principal, the Rochester Grammar School, and David Brown, Principal, the Oxford Academy.

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