The contest for a place in a favoured primary school is an annual ritual causing anxiety to parents all over London. Many schools in neighbourhoods with lots of children have tiny catchment areas of just a few hundred metres radius due to the pressure on reception places.
The bad news is that the situation is going to get worse before its get better. Parents seeking a place in 2016/17 will face the stiffest competition yet, due to simple demographics.
Between 2001/02 and 2011/12 the number of births went up by 28%, an extra 30,000 children. The birth rate peaked in 2011/12 and those children are destined to become the class of 2016/17.
The birth rate has fallen in the past 2 years but forecasting by the GLA Intelligence Unit shows that the 677,000 children attending state primaries in this school year will climb by 60,000 over the coming decade.
The increase in demand for primary school places is focused on East London boroughs that coincide with areas of housing development.
Tower Hamlets is projected to be the borough with the highest growth in demand, rising by nearly 7,000. More than 4,000 extra places are needed in Havering and Newham, nearly that amount in Barking and Dagenham, and 3,500 in Redbridge.
Kensington and Chelsea is the only borough that is forecast to see a fall in demand.
The GLA emphasises that the increase in demand does not automatically suggest a shortfall in places, as it has not factored in the planned expansion of existing schools or the building of new ones. Many schools have expanded to take on growing numbers but a further 2,000 primary classes will be needed over the next 10 years.
As the numbers begin to taper due to the falling birth rate of the past couple of years the problem will filter through to the secondary schools and, as reported by Urbs, that could mean even greater challenges for education in London.