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2,000 extra primary schools needed in England

20/03/2012 Kelly
England will need to build 2,000 new primary schools in the next three years to cope with the increased demand for places, according to Labour's shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg.

By 2015 there will be a shortfall of 450,000 primary school places, which amounts to just over 2,000 average primary schools of 224 pupils.

This increased need for schools is likely to see a surge in demand for primary school teachers, with some schools swelling in size and increasing the number of classes to cope with the demand.

Across London, the baby boom means that 100,000 additional primary school places will be needed by 2015, while in Brighton this figure is 2,000.

In Lancashire some 14,000 places will be needed and in Birmingham in Leeds there will be a shortfall of 11,000 places unless action is taken.

The BBC reported that the Department for Education has said it is going to invest £4 billion on the issue, but Mr Twigg is unconvinced by the current approach.

He called on the government to invest in new primary schools rather than funding more free schools and said that money needs to be spent where demand is the highest.

"Across England we need nearly half a million more primary places - the equivalent of building an extra 2,000 primary schools between now and the general election," the shadow minister said.

"At the moment, the government has only promised an extra 100 new free schools, many of which will be secondaries.

"The government seems oblivious to the problem, preferring to focus on pet projects rather than real need."

In the meantime, in some areas councils have been forced to take drastic measures, with one proposing renting out empty former Woolworths and MFI stores to turn them into makeshift schools.

Sutton council has also proposed increasing the primary school class limit beyond the current legal size of 30 pupils.

With some primary schools now swelling well beyond the average of 224 pupils to upwards of 1,000, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers Russell Hobby said that there is only so far that a school can grow before they lose their ability to cater for young children.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801322051-ADNFCR
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