The provision of school places remains an important part of the Council’s organisation and planning process. Local Authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that sufficient school places are available within their area for every child of school age whose parents wish them to have one; to promote diversity, parental choice and high educational standards; to ensure fair access to educational opportunity; and to help fulfill every child’s educational potential. According to the Local Government Association “Councils have the unique responsibility for securing sufficient school places although they increasingly have to work with schools and other partners to deliver the places needed”.
Planning learning places is a complex process which depends on a large number of variables, many of which are difficult to predict over the given period of time. It can therefore not be an exact science as it pulls together the effects of these changing variables including fluctuations and underlying trends in child population demographics, changes in housing developments, the migration of families between and within local authority areas, local geography and the exercise of parental preferences.
The context for planning future school places is set out including the limited availability of capital funding. This poses the challenge of finding creative, cost effective and value for money solutions that provide the numbers of high quality learning places needed, where they are needed and when they are needed.
The Childcare Sufficiency Assessment is a detailed study into the supply and demand of childcare within Kirklees and is a vital tool to share information with all stakeholders. The document provides the evidence base to help the market manage itself and to justify interventions required to help the council meet its statutory duty to ensure there is sufficient childcare available. The definition of ‘childcare’ includes the free early education and care entitlement, (which was extended to 30 hours per week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds from September 2017) as well as childcare services paid for by parents of children aged 0 to 19 years.