Extra £1bn needed to address London’s school places shortfall

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

More than 36,000 additional secondary school places must be created in London over the next six years to ensure young Londoners get the top-quality education they deserve, according to London Councils’ Do The Maths report.  
Overall, Do The Maths shows that London schools face a £1 billion funding shortfall over the next six years due to forecast demand for nearly 64,000 additional school places across the capital.
However, the report also illustrates how demand for primary school places in London is easing, with only 27,000 additional places needed over the next six years.
This is due in part to the remarkable achievements of London boroughs, which have invested their time, funding and expertise to support school expansion projects and enable the construction of new schools.
Schools have been aware that lower birth rates in 2013 would lead a smaller number of children starting primary school in London this year, but it is clear that high property prices in some areas and the initial effects of the EU membership referendum have also contributed to this easing of pressure at primary level.
London is also home to more pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) than the national average – the number of SEND pupils in the capital has increased by 22 per cent since 2010. Creating a new SEND school place in London costs around £69,000 on average, which is three times the cost of creating a mainstream school place.
The combined effect of these pressures mean that London schools need an extra £1 billion over the next six years to ensure that every child in the capital is able to get a school place that meets their needs.

Cllr Peter John OBE, Deputy Chair of London Councils and Executive member with responsibility for schools, said:

“This year’s Do The Maths report shows that while demand for secondary school places across the capital continues to grow, we are expecting primary school place demand to ease over the next six years. This is a new reality for London boroughs and local schools.

“Even with primary school population growth slowing down, London schools will still need to deal with a £1 billion funding shortfall over the next six years and create 64,000 additional school places. Ensuring young people gain the skills they need to succeed when they leave school has never been more important. We urge government to look again at funding levels to ensure they match the real costs schools and boroughs are facing.

“Do The Maths also underlines the importance of ensuring London boroughs have the resources to respond to new challenges. Reshaping the free schools programme so that government, boroughs and free school providers work more closely together and new schools are only opened in areas that are in genuine need of additional capacity would be another positive step.”  

London Councils Do The Maths report also predicts that further education colleges for 16 to 19 year olds will experience increased interest in courses from 2020. 

Visit www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/dothemaths17 to read the report in full or click here to download a PDF version.