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One year until London secondary pupil growth explosion

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

London boroughs are in a race against time to create more secondary school places as a new report shows that demand is set to explode across the capital.

London Councils’ Do The Maths report, published today, shows that secondary pupil growth is accelerating and will overtake primary growth for the first time in 2017/18. By the end of the decade there will be 71,580 more secondary pupils attending school in London. 

Despite the fact that London has the highest level of demand for school places in the country, London’s slice of the central government funding pot dedicated to creating new school places has fallen in recent years and will reach a low of 14 per cent in 2018/19. Diverting funding from other sources helps boroughs to plug the funding gap, but this is not sustainable long-term.

Cllr Peter John OBE, London Councils Executive member for children, skills and employment, said:

“The number of secondary school pupils in London is growing, which is a real challenge for boroughs because each new secondary school place costs around £6,000 more to create, on average, than a primary place. The clock is ticking – by 2021/22 London will need more than 47,000 additional secondary places. 

“Overall, London’s pupil population will have increased by a staggering 25 per cent over the course of this decade, yet London boroughs do not receive enough funding to fully cover the cost of building capacity in local schools. This is why we are calling on government to ensure that London gets its fair share of funding to be able to provide sufficient school places in the capital.

“Between 2016/17 and 2021/22, London will need 110,364 new school places, equivalent to creating 3,680 additional classes across London at an average rate of 610 new classes every single year. 

“London parents want to know that their children will not face uncertainty over whether they will get a school place in the future, which is why we are calling on government to provide funding that reflects the real cost of school expansions and creating and staffing entirely new schools in London.”

London Councils is calling on government to:

  • Provide London schools with a proportion of school places funding that reflects the number of new school places needed in the capital.
  • Prioritise Free School approvals in areas of high demand for places.
  • Identify additional resources to fully meet the cost of delivering additional special education needs and disabilities (SEND) places across the country.

The Do The Maths report also shows that:

  • London’s overall pupil population is expected to increase by 133,520 between now and 2020 – 71,580 secondary pupils and 61,950 primary pupils. 
  • 110,364 new school places will be needed between now and 2021/22 - 62,934 primary places and 47,430 secondary places.
  • The average cost of creating a mainstream secondary school place in London is £27,299. For a mainstream primary school place in London, the average cost is £21,147. 
  • At least £2.6 billion will be needed to provide sufficient school places in London between 2016/17 and 2021/22. Although £809 million has already been allocated, there is a shortfall of at least £1.8 billion.
  • Because of the shortfall in government funding, London boroughs have had to subsidise the creation of school places by a considerable amount. Between 2010/11 and 2016/17 this amounted to almost £400m of council funding that was diverted to school places.
  • Demand for SEND places at school in London is also on the rise, having increased by 22.5 per cent between 2011 and 2016. This is twice the rate of growth in England as a whole.

Read the full publication

Do The Maths 2016 - full publication (PDF)

Web version with interactive graphs

Do The Maths 2016