Councils taking drastic steps in face of surge in pupil numbers for secondary schools

The Guardian is reporting warnings from the Local Government Association that councils are borrowing millions of pounds and having to take unusual steps to meet the shortfall in school places as the baby boom demographic begins to move from primary to secondary schooling…

Analysis of Department for Education DfE data by the LGA suggests that one in three local authority areas will need to provide nearly 81,000 new places by 2019, as the baby boom demographic of recent years begins to move from primary to secondary schooling.

“While nationally the picture varies, locally some areas could face a significant squeeze and the number facing difficulties is set to increase over the next five years,” the LGA said.

The organisation reported that some councils were using “bulge” classes – adding an extra class to a particular year – while others were converting music studios and IT suites into extra classrooms. Bournemouth council tried to turn church halls or day centres into pop-up village schools, only to be rebuffed by the DfE’s funding arm.

Brighton and Hove council – facing a sharp increase in pupils because of the city’s rapid growth in the last decade – has converted a former police station into a satellite campus for West Hove junior school, adding a further 480 much-needed places…

London boroughs such as Newham, Lambeth and Richmond upon Thames are among the hot spots, with forecast shortfalls of 20% or more. Fast-growing Reading is worst off, with 7,500 places currently available but demand for 10,000 places expected by 2019.

Reading council has borrowed £34m to build new classrooms and buildings, while Essex county council has had to supplement its basic needs grant – the capital provided by the DfE for new school places – with £38m from its reserves…

The LGA’s warning came as the government announced an extra £350m in education funding for local authorities in 2015-16, using a new funding formula, although much of the increase appears likely to be eaten up by higher pension costs…

More at: Councils taking drastic steps in face of surge in pupil numbers

How is secondary provision looking in your area and what moves are being taken to alleviate potential shortfalls in places? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Local authorities and Secondary.


  1. BramRaider

    SchoolsImprove One of the issues that people forget when considering immigration. A number of studies have virtually ignored this strain.

  2. BramRaider

    SchoolsImprove It is a major reason why immigration needs some type of accurate forecast at the very least; the strain on public services.

  3. Richardkharker

    SchoolsImprove #schools government & Councils have had at least a five year lead in time to plan for this rise. So why ‘drastic steps’?

  4. Janet2

    The early 21st century baby boom generation will hit secondary schools  2018/19.  That seems to be enough time to LAs to prepare.  But they are hampered by Government policy.  There’s a presumption that any new school should be either an academy or a free school. 

    At the same time the Government has allowed free schools to open in areas where there is already a surplus.  81% of secondary free schools were opened in LAs where there are already too many places (National Audit Office figures).

    The NAO estimates that setting up free schools in areas where extra spaces are not needed has cost the taxpayer £241m.  That nearly wipes out the extra money schools minister David Laws announced would be going to LAs in increased funding.

  5. katiecpd

    MaryMyatt SchoolsImprove Sadly many LAs are not yet taking ‘drastic action’ – too slow… #therewillbetroubleahead

  6. rrunsworth

    Richardkharker SchoolsImprove Absolutely! Some LAs have planned, others have buried head in sand & now panicking

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