London school places crisis as councils fight to keep up with demand

15:06 19 April 2012

Councils in London are facing a financial shortfall in the battle to provide enough school places

Councils in London are facing a financial shortfall in the battle to provide enough school places

PA Wire/Press Association Images

London’s councils still face an “enormous challenge” providing enough school places, despite millions of pounds of extra funding being allocated.

Research by London Councils, the body representing the city’s 33 local authorities, has found councils have built or are in the process of building 241 new classrooms.

That is unlikely to be enough, however, and councils still face a struggle to ensure every child gets a school place.

Pupil numbers in London are predicted to increase by 9.2 per cent between 2010/11 and 2014/15 compared to just four per cent in the rest of England.

This means there will be more than 100,000 extra pupils in London schools in 2014/15 compared to 2010/11.

Last year London Councils forecast a shortfall of 65,000 primary places between 2011 and March 2015.

Most of this shortage was concentrated in primary schools, but will begin to feed into secondary schools from 2014.

The government allocated London’s 33 boroughs with an extra £528m at the end of last year.

It was announced last week that the London boroughs will receive £300m - half of the £600m additional capital basic need funding – the government is allocating to create more permanent schools places.

While the extra funding has been welcomed by Loundon Councils, there is still a huge financial shortfall

The cost of providing the number of school places needed is predicted to rise to more than £1.7 billion over the next four years.

Councillor Steve Reed, executive member for children at London Councils, said: “London’s local authorities have to provide enough school places for every child in the capital and parents should be reassured that we take this duty very seriously.

“The boroughs have been working tirelessly to try and plug the shortfall in places and at least 241 new classrooms are being built across London.

“But given the scale of the demand for school places, the physical constraints of existing school buildings – many of which are already full - and a lack of funding, boroughs still face an enormous challenge.”

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