Parents may be invited to set up new Leicestershire Free Schools” to help cope with a predicted rise in children aged 4-11.
Due to more young families choosing to live in the Leicestershire county, planned new housing developments and rising birth rates have all had a major impact in the number of school places required.
Previously, Leicestershire County Council would have had to provide the extra school places. But since the introduction of new types of schools (such as academies and free schools) which are not under local authority control and look after their own budgets, it means it now only has to ensure there are enough places available.
Leicestershire County Council is considering inviting parent groups, charities and other organisations interested in setting up new schools to come forward. Existing academies could also be encouraged to expand.
A Leicestershire County Council director for children and young people, said: “We’re not yet at capacity but we need to plan for a possible rise in future years and, as many schools now account for their own funding, we need to change the way we address this.
“This means that, in the future, we could look to expand a school or ask organisations, including academies, parental groups or a developer, to bid to create a new academy or free school.”
A report for Leicestershire County Council’s children and young people’s service scrutiny committee says there is a surplus of primary school places in the county.
However, the report said there were “distinct pockets of need” arising from “increased births, planned new housing development and demographic change”.
It states the need for extra places in Harborough and Hinckley and Bosworth as particularly urgent, and more places need to be created in those areas within the next year.
The report does not identify the number of extra places that are likely to be needed.
The document states there are “generally sufficient” secondary school places across the county.
Dozens of Leicestershire schools have removed themselves from local authority control and converted to academy status in the past year, and more are expected to follow.
Free schools, of which there is one in the city, are set up by charities, parents or teachers.
The scrutiny committee will discuss the report on Monday and the council’s cabinet will discuss the issue of additional school places the following day.