Pupils ‘to outnumber school places’

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Published: Friday 3rd April 2015 by The News Editor

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More than half of areas could have more primary school pupils than there are places available in just two years’ time, according to town hall chiefs.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said its analysis of official figures indicates that by September next year, two in five local authorities in England – 66 out of 152 – will have more children ready to start school than there are places.

It claimed that by 2017/18 this will increase to more than half (85 areas) and go up to three in five dealing with more pupils than places (94 areas) in 2018/19.

The LGA said that councils have created more than 300,000 primary school places since May 2010, with many increasing class sizes, diverting money set aside for school repair programmes and converting areas such as music rooms into classrooms.

But it repeated warnings that the situation is reaching a “tipping point” and made a fresh call for an incoming government to hand councils enough cash and new powers to open new schools and establish more places.

David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Mums and dads rightly expect their child to be able to get a school place where they live, but our fear is that we will reach a tipping point when councils or schools cannot afford the massive cost of creating places or find the space necessary for new classes.

“As we approach a new parliament, the next government must commit to fully fund the creation of all new school places and give councils the powers to open new schools once again, before time runs out and we are faced with a national crisis. Councils face an uphill battle creating places where they are needed when their hands are tied by red tape and they are short of money to do so.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “The last Labour government failed to plan for the future, cutting funding for 200,000 school places during a baby boom. By contrast, this Government has created over 440,000.

“As part of our long-term economic plan we are providing the best schools and skills for young people so that they can fulfil their potential and get on in life, and we must stick to the course.

“Labour’s chaotic plans would mean more borrowing and more debt than our children and grandchildren could ever pay off – we should never trust them with our economy, or our children’s education, ever again.”

Published: Friday 3rd April 2015 by The News Editor

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