Primaries cope with the birth bulge but pressure on places will soon shift east

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The competition for primary school places is always nerve-wracking for parents and this year was potentially the toughest yet.  A birth rate bulge in 2011/12 meant that there were more children than ever before applying for a place in reception starting in September.  But London schools appear to have coped.

Provisional figures from the Pan London Admissions Board show that when offers went out to anxious parents on 18th April about 84% received their first choice, up 1% on 2015. 93% were offered a place in one of their top three choices out of up to six schools they were asked to list on the application form.

But for more than 3,000 kids and their parents who were offered no place at their preferred schools there’s an anxious wait to see where they’ll be going in September.

Primary schools in London received 103,329 applications this year, according to the Pan London Admissions Board.  The school age population of London is growing at twice the rate of any other region of the country and forecasts from the GLA suggest the the 677,000 children attending state primaries in London will rise by 60,000 over the next decade.

The full data on places for this year is yet to be released but some provisional figures show that only 68% of children in Kensington and Chelsea got their first choice and 72% in Hammersmith and Fulham.

The GLA forecasts show that the pressure on places will shift eastwards in the coming years with greatest demand for places in Tower Hamlets – nearly 7000 extra.  Kensington and Chelsea is the only borough where demand will fall.

Primary school demand

The ongoing problem for pupils, parents, schools and local authorities is that population growth presents not just a difficulty in finding a first primary place but has a knock on across the school years, as reported by Urbs.

The GLA has forecast that London will need the equivalent of 90 new secondary schools over the next decade to cope with the growth in pupil numbers.  Primary school places may be a problem but secondary school places provide the bigger challenge as building these schools takes longer and is more expensive due to the size and facilities required.

Source data

See also

Fight for reception gets tougher as more kids swell primary school demand

105,000 extra secondary pupils pose huge challenge for capital’s schools

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

 

105,000 extra secondary pupils pose huge challenge for capital’s schools

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Photo: Monkey Business Images ┃Shutterstock.com

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.

Secondary school places

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.

Source data

See also

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

Violence, disruption and drugs – why 20,000 pupils were excluded from school last year

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