UK Facing Severe Primary School Places Shortage


British school councils are warning of an imminent shortage crisis in primary schools across the country. Council leaders state that two in five council areas in England won’t have enough student places to welcome 2016 students in their classrooms, BBC Education Correspondent Sean Coughlan writes.

Eleanor Harding of the Daily Mail also says that the “pressure on the education system has intensified following a baby boom and continued migration, forcing schools to boost class sizes and add classrooms.”

As it being estimated, by 2018 three in five local authorities will be dealing with a places shortfall and the UK won’t be able to offer education opportunities for all its eligible students. The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, warned about the imminent shortage crisis back in 2014. Wilshaw said:

“‘When they’re faced with an influx of children from other countries, they need the resources and capacity to deal with it and if those resources aren’t there, that’s a big issue for government.”

The rising population is reaching a tipping point the Local Government Association (LGA) says. London, Manchester, Leeds and Bristol are among the cities facing the shortage issue. Schools are not only running out of spaces but out of money and cannot create new places for students, the LGA warns.

“Britain is in the grips of a baby boom. We’ll have the biggest population in Europe by the end of the century and clearly that’s having a lot of pressure on school places,” David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board said.

According to estimates in the next ten years an extra 880,000 students will be in need of a place at school, which will cost Britain £12bn to accommodate.

The association estimates that Harrow in North West London will have only 100 places for every 122  eligible students and Newham in East London 100 places for every 120 students. David Simmonds said at BBC Radio 4:

“We are in a situation now where we are looking at buying land, building completely news schools and that is clearly going to be expensive and the biggest challenge that the new government will have in its education in-tray.”

The National Teachers Union recommends letting children learn through creative play until the age of seven, the Daily Mail reports. Eleanor Harding writes:

“Members believe this deprives youngsters of their ‘fundamental human right to play’ and socialise with their classmates.Instead, schools should follow the lead of countries such as Finland and introduce 45-minute lessons immediately followed by 15-minute playtimes.”

Since May 2010, a total of 300,000 student places have been created by councils across the UK either through class size increases, creative uses of classrooms such as converting music rooms into classrooms and utilizing repair program funding.