Plans have been unveiled in Manchester for combating the growing shortage of primary school places, which could result in the creation of new teaching vacancies.
With live births increasing by 22 per cent between 2001 and 2011, the National Audit Office recently estimated that 256,000 new school places will be needed in England between May 2012 and 2014-15, of which 240,000 will be in primary schools.
Manchester too has been affected by this predicament, with its city council anticipating a shortage of between 250 and 300 primary school places come September unless urgent action is taken, potentially growing to a shortfall of 730 places by 2016.
The council has already expanded 40 primary schools to deal with this growing demand and has now produced a masterplan that includes enlarging a further 25 over the next three years, Manchester Evening News has reported.
Furthermore, it has bid for a new 400-place primary academy in the north of the city and acknowledges it will probably also need to build at least one more primary school in that area and as many as three in central and south Manchester.
Councillor Afzhal Khan insisted the council has been making preparations for this growth in pupil numbers since 2008, creating 1,000 new primary places in that time.
He remarked: "We've worked closely with schools over the last few years in this and continue to do so to ensure there will be a sufficiency of places to meet the rising demand in the future."
Moreover, the local authority has set aside an additional £2.5 million to help primary teachers deal with this year's rise in pupil numbers, of which £1.5 million will go on teaching resources and the remaining £1 million on temporary classrooms.
The government has partly sought to tackle the shortage of school places through its free school initiative, with 102 of these institutions recently given the green light to open from 2014, of which 11 will be located in the north-west.
It is anticipated that the 190 free schools either already open or given permission to open will between them eventually accommodate 130,000 children.
However, the National Union of Teachers has repeatedly warned that many of these schools are opening in areas where they are not required and furthermore are mostly secondary schools when the impending shortfall is in primary places.
Posted by Harriet McGowan