34,000 pupils could be without a secondary school place in next 5 years

school desk handsParents in London are familiar with the struggle to find primary school places for their children. The shortage is now feeding through to secondary schools and a local government organisation says London will face a shortfall of 34,000 places between now and 2020.

London Councils, which represents the 32 boroughs and the City of London, is warning the government that the capital’s secondary schools are facing a shortfall crisis unless more funding is given to build more schools or expand existing ones.

The organisation says that there will be a 3% growth each year in primary school pupils until the end of the decade, which means 80,000 more children. The impending problem for secondary schools is compounded by higher than average growth in primary school numbers over the past 5 years.

The organisation forecasts that this will mean an increase in secondary school pupils across London from 488,000 to 561,000 by 2020. This if 5 times more than the growth between 2010-15 and current capacity can cope with fewer than 40,000 more pupils.

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The problem for London is particularly acute with a growth rate of 15% in the secondary school population compare to 9% for the rest of England.

London Councils says that in recent years boroughs have used there own resources to supplement central government funding to keep pace with demand for school places, but more government funding is now needed.

Peter John of London Councils said: “In recent years there has been a shortfall of around £1 billion between the real cost of school places and the money councils receive. Boroughs have received just 59% of the cost of new school places provided, closing the gap by selling assets, borrowing or drawing from other sources of funding within the council.”

London Councils used the data the boroughs provide to the Department for Education on school places to make the forecast and published its findings in a paper entitled The London Equation.