London Needs 133,000 School Places

Government funding accounts for only 52% of new school places

London needs an additional 133,000 school places by 2018 to address future demand, the latest projections reveal.

In its analysis, Do the Maths 2014, London Councils, which represents all London local authorities, warns that London’s 'new baby-boom' is putting pressure on schools, as pupils move from primary school to secondary school.

Despite successful efforts by councils to build new schools and classrooms – 46,000 places were created in 2012/13 – the challenge continues as London has the highest predicted pupil growth and subsequent shortage of secondary places in the UK.

The ‘new baby-boom’ began around 2001. Rising construction costs and a shortage of land are adding to the costs of both building new schools and expanding existing ones.

Councils are using money from other sources to fund new classrooms. This is quickly becoming unsustainable.   

The report notes that the cost of creating one place in inner London is £15,000; two new forms of entry to a school cost £900,000.

Cllr Peter John, Executive member for children and young people at London Councils, said: “It’s clear from this analysis that pressure is increasing as the baby boomers move from primary to secondary school.

“Councils have been digging deep into their own pockets to fund a place for every child, but rising land and building costs, limited council budgets and the rise in numbers make this option unsustainable in the long-term.

“Councils retain a legal duty to provide places for all pupils, despite government restricting new schools to free schools and academies, over which councils have little influence.”

The report calls on the Department for Education to tackle the school places challenge by:

  • ensuring funding meets the real costs of building school places in London by removing the ’75 per cent adjustment’ that assumes funding has been sufficient to provide 75 per cent of school places
  • ‘frontloading’ funding so boroughs can start planning and building secondary schools straightaway
  • addressing London’s rising need for special schools through more appropriate funding ensuring free schools are prioritised in areas of need.

Cllr John added: “Mums, dads, teachers and pupils all deserve reassurance that the DfE will properly address the situation and make sure its funding reflects reality in the capital.”

July 28, 2014

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