London could be 34,000 secondary places short

  • By Jim Ranger

Without significant investment, London will have a shortage of 34,830 secondary school places by the end of this parliament according to updated figures released today (21 July 2015).

London Councils, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, is calling on the government to fund new primary and secondary school places in the capital at a level that reflects the real cost of providing these places.

The report reveals that boroughs have spent approximately £1 billion between 2010 and 2015 making up a shortfall in education funding – equivalent to over a third of every annual council tax bill in London (2).

In primary schools, pupil growth of three per cent is forecast up to the end of the decade, around 80,000 additional pupils. But due to historically higher-than-average pupil growth at primary level for a number of years the pressure is now emerging in secondary schools.

London’s secondary school population is set to increase from 488,160 at present to 560,880 by the end of the decade, according to the research. This means an additional 72,730 secondary school places will be needed – there is capacity for fewer than 40,000 at present.

Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ Executive member for education and schools, said: “London will be missing tens-of-thousands of secondary places by the end of the decade unless boroughs receive the funding needed to provide them. In recent years there has been a shortfall of around £1 billion between the real costs of school places and the money councils receive. Boroughs have received just 59 per cent of the cost of the new school places provided, closing the gap by selling assets, borrowing or drawing from other sources of funding within the council.

“As London moves towards a dual pressure on both primary and secondary school places a significant improvement is urgently required in the Basic Need Funding to make sure parents and pupils get the school places they deserve.”

Compared to other regions, London will not only have a larger secondary pupil population but its rate of growth will almost double during the term of this parliament. London’s secondary population is projected to increase by fifteen per cent compared to growth for the rest of England of nine per cent.

Cllr John added: “Council budgets are straining from a 70 per cent real terms reduction in core government funding, as well as additional pressures of rising demand for social care.


Download the report from the related documents (right).

School places case study

With thanks to London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

With the demand for school places forecast to continue to rise, Barking and Dagenham has a well-planned school expansion programme to fulfil its promise of a school place for every child.

The investment programme is aimed at meeting the need for school places and providing nursery places for two-year-olds as forecasts up to year 2020 show numbers are set to increase dramatically.

Over the next three years an approximate total of £68 million will be invested across schools within the borough to meet an unprecedented rise in demand and the ongoing pressure for school places.

The demand is due to one of the largest population changes seen in any borough across the country. This growth is caused by changes in the age profile of residents, the rise in birth rates and changes in migration patterns. These patterns are prone to fluctuations with peaks in the numbers of families moving into the borough taking place during the summer holidays.

Pupil numbers are forecast using the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) data linked to births as well as information gathered from Regeneration, Housing, and Children’s Services as well as other boroughs. All together, the information indicates that the secondary school population will increase from 14,900 to 21,189 by September 2020, with primary school numbers increasing from 22,549 to 29,550.

Since 2010, 645 secondary school places and 4,920 primary school places have been created and by 2020 all but two schools will have expanded to meet the rising demand for school places. This will be made possible by creating spaces across the whole of the borough; using existing sites and creating new secondary schools.

By 2020, LBBD plans to have 29,550 primary school places and 21,189 secondary school places – an increase of 11.2 per cent from 2010 and above the reported average of 8.2 per cent in the ITV report dated 15 May 2015.

For each school year the borough has emergency solutions ready in case they are needed and the whole team have developed their capacity for agile, creative solutions.

Notes to Editor
1. Between the financial years 2010/11 and 2014/15, a period of predominately primary pupil growth, the Department for Education distributed a total of £4.3 billion across local authorities to meet the costs of providing school places. London received £1.6 billion, a 38 per cent share of the national funding. This has not been sufficient to meet the costs of new places in London over this period. 

2. The figure for 2014-15 of council tax collected by London Boroughs is approximately £2.6 billion. 

3. In the past three years school places forecasts by London boroughs have been 98 per cent accurate. 

4. Ideally, shortfall analysis would be done at school level, as this is where the pressures are, and by comparing it at a higher level it is likely the need will be understated as one school that spare capacity would net off another school which needs additional places.