Demand for school places in London has risen significantly over the past decade, at a faster rate than in any other region of the country. While London has experienced a high demand for primary school places for a number of years, this demand is now shifting to secondary level as pupils reach secondary school age. Current projections highlight a shortfall of 45,355 places across primary and secondary schools in London until 2022/23, with the majority as secondary level. Meanwhile, London has seen a reduction in the birth rate of 6 per cent since 2012/13. This is likely to impact on the number of places needed in primary schools in the coming years.
Each year, London Councils produces an estimate of the number of new mainstream school places required to meet demand in the capital. This section outlines the recent trends in pupil numbers and the predicted shortfall in future years. Unlike previous Do The Maths publications, this year’s analysis is based on aggregating individual borough’s most recent shortfall estimates.
Since 2010/11, London has seen the largest increase in total pupil numbers of any region. From 2010/11 to 2017/18 total pupil numbers increased by 13 per cent across London, compared with 8 per cent national. This growth has occurred at both primary and secondary level. From 2010/11 to 2017/18, the number of secondary school pupils increased by 11 per cent in London, compared with a 2 per cent decrease across the rest of England. Over the same period, primary pupils increased by 14 per cent.
Using boroughs’ shortfall estimates, a total of 43,335 new school places will be required in London over the next five years. Demand is increasingly focused on more costly and complex secondary phase, with three quarters of these places needed at secondary compared to a quarter at primary. Secondary shortfall is set to overtake primary demand this year.
Although the London wide picture is that of increasing shortfall, this is not a consistent trend across all boroughs. Indeed, some boroughs do not face a future shortfall using current estimates. Other boroughs may have an overall surplus of places at primary level, for example, due to the reasons highlighted above, but experience pressure on places in a particular area of the borough.