London needs the equivalent of 90 new secondary schools to deal with the growth in pupil numbers over the next decade.
The number of children of secondary school age is projected to rise by 26.5%, and there’ll be an increase of 9% in primary pupils by 2024/25.
The Greater London Authority’s Intelligence Unit made these projections and in the introduction to its report the Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Munira Mirza, says: “Meeting the demand for secondary places over the next decade is the foremost educational challenge facing London today.”
The rise in numbers has been driven by an increasing birth rate, up 28% between 2001/02 and 2011/12. The GLA Intelligence Unit also says that there has been a reduction in the number of young families leaving London since the financial crisis of 2008.
This increase in children has already placed pressure on primary schools but it will soon feed into the secondary schools.
Currently there are 394,000 pupils aged 11-15 attending state secondary schools in London. By 2024/25 that number is projected to have grown by 105,000. That’s equivalent to 3,500 secondary school classes.
The GLA’s projections show that the rise in pupils is spread right across the capital. The biggest increase is in Barking and Dagenham with nearly 5,900 additional pupils. Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Croydon, Brent and Hounslow also see a steep rise in demand. The smallest increase is in Kensington and Chelsea.
These numbers reflect the increase in demand not a shortfall in school places. A number of pupils might be accommodated through available capacity or new schools or extensions to existing ones that are planned.
However, a projection on the shortfall in places by London Councils (a body that represents the boroughs) reported by Urbs, estimates that 34,000 secondary pupils could be without a school place in the next 5 years alone.
As the GLA report points out, finding a solution will not be quick or easy as building new secondary school takes longer and is more expensive than developing primary schools due to the size and facilities required.