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Boroughs warning on school places shortage

Released on 27 February 2013

Continued delays at the Department for Education risk adding to London’s shortage of school places, councils in the capital warned this week.

Local authorities have been waiting since November for the Department for Education to publish basic need allocation funding, which councils use to invest in new classrooms to meet rising demand in the capital. To be ready for the September 2014 intake, boroughs need to begin the construction process now.


Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ Executive Member for Children and Young People, said:

London boroughs are doing their utmost to provide every child with a school place, but this is becoming increasingly difficult with ongoing increases in demand and a lack of surety of funding from the Department for Education.”

 “The government needs to reassure worried parents by announcing how much money is available  and so allowing boroughs to get on with building much-needed classrooms.”


Demographic pressures mean that by 2015, 90,000 extra places will be needed in London. Boroughs have seen a decline in the number of families moving areas due to the stagnation of the housing market as well as a decline in numbers of pupils attending private schools. These factors, coupled with the rising birth rate in London, have led to the shortage of school places.

Boroughs need to know how much they are getting to meet this rising demand. Without this certainty, schools may be forced invest in temporary facilities rather than permanent classrooms.



The timeline of London Councils’ correspondence with the DfE is outlined below:

  • 14 November – London Councils wrote to the Rt Hon Michael Gove outlining concerns that basic need funding will not be announced in mid-December (the month the Department announced basic need funding) but delayed until end of January 2013.    
  • 10 December – David Laws MP responds and states that the delay is due to a new data collection method. Due to “double checking” the accuracy of the data, funding announcements will be published by the end of January.
  • 7  February - the average lead time for building a new classroom in time for September 2014 entry was reached.
  • 8 February – London Councils wrote to David Laws one again to raise serious concerns that basic need funding still has not been announced. On the departmental website any dates of when this would be announced were removed.

To date, no further announcement has been made.