Falling numbers for free school meals but rates still among highest in country

children legsThe number of pupils claiming free school meals is continuing to fall in London. However, there is a greater proportion of children in nursery, primary and secondary schools claiming free lunches here than in many other parts of the country.

New data from the Department of Education shows that nearly 17% of London pupils are receiving free school meals in nurseries and primaries – more than two percentage points higher than the average in England.

Only the North East and West Midlands regions have a higher proportion of youngsters on the free meal scheme.  In Tower Hamlets and Hackney more than a third of under 11s are receiving free meals. The Merseyside borough of Knowsley is the only local authority with a higher rate.

In Southwark, a fifth of children are claiming free meals, a slight increase on last year.  But the numbers are down in Lewisham and Westminster, and the largest decrease took place in Islington where 29% of pupils are claiming school meal benefits, down from 38% last year, but still the third highest rate in the capital.

Free school meals primary

The trend is similar among secondary school pupils. On average, 13% of children over 11 are on the free meal scheme across England. The rate is similar in Outer London but significantly higher within inner London, with more than 40% in Tower Hamlets and 30% in Hackney and Islington. In Camden and Lambeth it is around a quarter of secondary school children.

Free school meals secondary-2

London varies hugely with outer areas pushing the capital average down.  Boroughs in the South West score as low or lower than many other parts of the country, with both Kingston upon Thames and Richmond upon Thames averaging less than 9% for students below the age of 16 claiming free school meals.

Free school meals are available to children from families who are claiming other types of benefit for unemployment or low income.  In 2013 the government extended the scheme so that all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 at state primary schools, ie all children under 8, receive free meals.  From year 3 onwards families must register and make a claim.

Entitlement to free school meals is commonly used as an indicator for children living in poverty. But many who are entitled to the benefit do not claim, a reluctance sometimes attached to social stigma. In London this year 215,000 children are judged to be eligible but only 180,000 are receiving free meals.

Source data

See also

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

85% of children in private school in one area of West London

Schools data reveals ethnic mix with fall in proportion of white British pupils

 

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

Empty class OlegDoroshin shutterstock_243207280-1-2

Photo: Oleg Doroshin | Shutterstock

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

 

85% of children in private school in one area of West London

dad and kids Sending children to private schools has long been a popular choice for parents in West London. But in one small area of Westminster the figures are still surprising. 85% of the children aged 4-11 in Knightsbridge and Belgravia ward are absent from the state school roll and presumed to be in independent schools.

The figures were produced by the GLA in its research on demand for school places.

Knightsbridge and Belgravia ward is a neighbourhood of ultra-expensive residential property to the south of Hyde Park. In contrast there are 114 wards in London, around 18%, that have no children of primary age attending an independent school. Many of these areas are in the less affluent eastern boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Havering and Bexley.

The GLA calculates that across London 12.8% of children aged between 4-15 are in independent schools, and this is most prevalent in south west and central London, particularly Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea.

Data from the Department for Education shows the rate is 10.6% if children 16-18 are taken into account, and the rate has been steady for the past 4 years. Across London 146,000 children are being educated privately.

When mapped at borough level the east/west divide becomes clear, with the exception of the City of London where there is just 1 state primary and 4 independents.

6 boroughs, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Camden account for 40% of the children in private education.

Private school uptake map

 

Boroughs on the eastern edge of the capital have little private education. In Barking and Dagenham it is less than 1%, just 115 of the 40,000 school-age children in the borough.

Only the South East matches London for the proportion of children in independent schools. Nationally the rate is 7%. Many parts of London are well below that rate underlining the contrast between rich and poor in the city.

Source data

See also

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

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

Schools data reveals ethnic mix with fall in proportion of white British pupils

 

 

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

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Photo: Oleg Doroshin ┃Shutterstock.com

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.

Primary school demand

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.

Source data

See also

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

How the obesity rate doubled for the class of 2007

Private school? Depends where you live

 

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

Monkey Business Images shutterstock_284502440-1-2

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

Private school? Depends where you live

How the obesity rate doubled for the class of 2007

dreamstime_s_9910135The rate of obesity in primary school children in London doubles between Reception and Year 6. And the capital has the biggest problem of any region in the country with children who are overweight or classified as obese.

The findings come from analysis by Urbs Media of data from the National Child Measurement Programme over the last 9 years. Under this programme children are measured and weighed at the start and the end of primary school. It was set up by the government to help tackle obesity and covers children in all state schools, with around 95% taking part.

The most recent figures are for the 2013-14 school year and show that more than a fifth of children in Year 6 in London are classified as obese. That is more than double the rate for children in reception.

child obesity London

And this is not a recent phenomenon. Data going back to the 2006-07 school year shows a similar doubling in rates of obesity.

The Year 6 children from last year entered the school system in 2007. The data for that year shows that of the 74,235 Reception children measured, 10.8% or 8,017 were classified as obese.   In Year 6, 78,642 were measured. Many of the children may be different as families leave and arrive in the capital. But many will be the same. The rate of obesity for the class of 2007 had doubled by age 11.

London’s record looks even grimmer when children who are classified as overweight are added. In London, 38% of 11-year-olds are classified as overweight or obese. The North East and the West Midland have a very similar proportion of overweight 11-year-olds but a slightly lower rate of obese children.

child obesity regional

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to calculate levels of body fat to indicate whether someone is classified as underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese. For most adults a BMI above 30 indicates obesity. The index levels for each classification vary for children to take account of difference in growth rates at different ages.

The data for London shows a largely capital-wide problem with 7 boroughs (Hackney, Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Lambeth and Southwark) with more that a quarter of Year 6 pupils classified as obese. Richmond stands out by having a much lower level. It also has a lower level of obese 5-year-olds, just 6%.

child obesity map

London has a better record on adult obesity than other regions of the country but the National Child Measurement Programme data shows a significant problem for youngsters that will lead to serious health issues in later lifer.

Much has been done in the recent year to raise awareness of the need for a good diet and the risks of being overweight. Despite that, the data shows that this has been  a consistent problem and it is not going away.

Source data

BMI calculator

See also

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Size matters – and it depends where you live

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

School LibraryMore than 22,000 pupils were excluded from primary and secondary schools on a permanent or temporary basis last year. And black children were far more likely to be excluded than white or Asian ones.

Exclusions are given to children for severe or persistent breaches of school rules. In the most serious cases a pupil is permanently prevented from attending the school. In lesser cases a Head Teacher can exclude a child for a fixed period of time.

Children are most commonly excluded for an assault on a fellow pupil. This accounted for 8,000 incidents last year. The other main reason is persistent poor behaviour. But in more than 2,000 cases a teacher or other adult was attacked and children were excluded for drug and alcohol related incidents more than 1,000 times.

Exclusions reaasons

Figures from the Department for Education for the 2013-14 school year show that 780 pupils in London were permanently excluded, 90% of them from secondary schools, though the number from primary schools was up slightly on last year.

Nearly 35,000 fixed period exclusions were handed out, with some children sent home from school for a number of days on more than one occasion. This represents a rate of exclusion of 3.37% of the compulsory school age population compared to an average for England of 3.98%. It means the capital has the lowest rate in the country.

But the overall rate masks a variation in rates among ethnic groups. Black children are excluded at a higher rate than white, while Asian children have the lowest level of exclusion.

Exclusions ethnic

Across London there is a wide range in the rate of exclusion, from 6.3% in Hackney to just 1.6% in Kingston for pupils sent home for fixed terms. Across London last year nearly 94,000 school days were lost to children on temporary exclusion

Exclusions map fixed

To understand borough patterns for the smaller number of permanent exclusions where parents have to find an alternative school for their child Urbs looked at the data over 5 years – 2009-14. This showed 7 boroughs with more than 200 exclusions and 5 with 60 or fewer.

Exclusion map permanent

According to the Department of Education 14-year olds have the highest rate of exclusion and boys are 3 times more likely to be excluded as girls.

Source data

See also

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

Schools data reveals ethnic mix with fall in proportion of white British pupils

Newham formally lists fewer kids for special needs support than other boroughs

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.


See also

Private school? Depends where you live

Our multi-lingual city – English second language for half of primary pupils


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.