Cllr Peter John OBE, Deputy Chair of London Councils and Executive member with responsibility for education, said:
“We are disappointed that the Government has not announced any new funding for existing schools. School revenue budgets are being significantly squeezed by a wide range of cost pressures and 70 per cent of London’s schools will be hit by further cuts when the National Funding Formula is introduced in April 2018. That is why we are calling on DfE to invest £335 million to ensure no school in the country loses funding when the national funding formula is introduced.
“London also needs to create more than 110,000 additional school places over the next five years to meet growing demand. The popularity of London’s schools is no surprise given that 94 per cent of them are currently rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.
“While the investment in capital funding for schools announced in the Budget is sorely needed, the free school programme can be problematic for councils as they have no official say over where new schools are built and yet have a responsibility to ensure every child has a school place.
“Location is an important factor in the success of a new school, both in terms of sustainability and meeting demand for school places. This is why we are calling on Government to prioritise new free schools in areas of high demand for school places.”
Notes to editors
London Councils has calculated that London needs at least £1.8 billion to provide sufficient school places in London between 2016/17 and 2021/22.
In particular, demand for secondary school places is forecast to increase considerably in the next few years. This is challenging because secondary school places are on average £6,000 more expensive to create than primary school places as older pupils need subject-specific classrooms such as science laboratories.
Historically London boroughs have coped well with rising demand for places through a mix of expanding existing schools through one-off bulge classes and permanent expansions, as well as working with free school providers in some areas to ensure that new schools can meet demand for places.
However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for local authorities to plan sufficient places due to:
- drying up of existing options to expand schools
- the lack of available land to build new schools on, particularly for larger secondary schools
- insufficient basic need funding allocations from government
- lack of levers to ensure that academies and free schools work with local authorities to help to deliver new school places
According to London Council’s Do The Maths report, 17 Free Schools, out of a total of 201 opened since 2010, are in areas where secondary pupil numbers are expected to fall by 2019/20.