Building new schools must be government priority

Hundreds of extra schools should be built in England to cope with the school population bulge, say public sector buildings specialists Scape group.

Government figures suggest there will be almost 730,000 more school age children by 2020 than there were last year, which is predicted to equate to 24,287 classrooms.

The Local Government Association stance on the situation agrees that more places are needed, stating that its own research suggests that although existing schools have been expanding to cope with the bulge, many have almost run out of space.

The pressure for more places will differ regionally, with London, the south east and the east of England seeing the largest increases with places in the north east and north west lower.

Mark Robinson, chief executive of Scape, said: “The country will soon start to feel the full weight of the impending boom in pupil numbers and we're already seeing unprecedented pressure on school places. A radical new wave of school-building must be a top priority for the government.”

Richard Watts, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, added: “Councils have a statutory duty to ensure every child has a school place available to them but find themselves in the difficult position of not being able to ensure schools, including academies, expand.

"Finding suitable sponsors with the capacity to take on the running of a successful new school is also proving a challenge."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said local authorities would continue to create thousands more school places in coming years, with 600,000 additional pupil places created in the five years to May 2015.