London local authorities and schools are currently dealing with a significant fall in demand for school places, with implications for school budgets and standards.
London is currently facing significant decreases in demand for school places, as the birth rate has dropped and other local factors take hold. Most London boroughs are expected to see a decline in reception pupil numbers from 2023-24 to 2027-28. Over this four year period there is a forecast drop in demand of 4.4% at reception on average across London and a forecast drop in demand of 4.3% for Year 7 places.
The drop in the child population is creating challenges for schools, many of whom are already in deficit, and face further budgetary reductions due to fewer pupils on their school roll. There is an imminent risk that falling rolls and stretched budgets will lead to a drop in standards which will impact children’s long term educational attainment.
Given the current and forecast drops in demand for both reception and year 7 places, it is essential that local authorities, schools, Multi Academy Trusts, the Dioceses and the DfE work together to ensure that every local area has excellent, financially viable schools that provide a good choice to families.
We need central government to help ensure that all schools, including academies, need to work together as a local ecosystem of schools to manage the implications of falling rolls on school budgets and performance, and to minimise the impact on children’s long term outcomes.
Our latest report, ‘Managing falling school rolls in London (2024)’ sets out our analysis of forecasts of demand and school budgets, the challenges in the system and recommendations for what we, local government, and central government can do to support schools.
Last year’s report, ‘Managing surplus school places in London (2023)’ sets out our analysis of borough four-year forecasts of demand and recommendations for change.
In 2020 we concluded a series of reports called ‘Do the Maths’ publications can be read below. These reports detailed the pressures on London school places from 2015 to 2020.