Responding to the Local Government Association's comments on the shortage of school places, NSN Director Unity Howard said:
"It is deeply concerning that 20% of families failed to gain a place at their first preference school as demonstrated in this report. It is an injustice that in many parts of the country, parents have no option other than to send their children to schools that are not good enough. Children only have one chance at an education and they must be able to have the best possible.
Local councils have the ability to open new schools through a free school presumption competition. This ensures a fair and open process to find the best provider. Since its introduction in 2015, 38 new schools have been opened through presumptions and a further 26 are in the pipeline.
In our recent report ‘Free schools: the next 10 years’ we identify seven recommendations to reinvigorate and extend the free schools policy to all areas of the country, particularly those left behind. We propose that the Government provide funding for schools that are part of housing developments in advance of contribution from developers. This will bridge the gap between places required and the funding available. By opening 100 new free schools each year, we can meet the school places challenge while also ensuring parents have a genuine choice for educating their child."