We need more Primary School Places ASAP!

As millions of children returned back to or started school last month and despite the announcement of 93 Free Schools opening in September, the growing demand for primary places across the UK is becoming more apparent. In 2012, Britain hit its highest number of births for the last four decades and with an influx of young immigrants, 256,000 additional places are needed by 2014. Consequently, the number of class sizes exceeding 30 pupils has more than doubled since 2008 and two-thirds of local authorities in England have used playground space for temporary classrooms.

Education minsters are working to create these places by next year through the creation of more free schools. However, with unprecedented economic pressures on resources needed to improve and expand existing schools is this target realistic? Parents worrying about which school to choose for their five-year old will eventually no longer be a problem for a significant number of parents by 2015. The Borough Barking and Dagenham has felt the crippling demand for primary school places particularly and the Council have proposed a range of radical interim solutions such as a three-day school week. One half of pupils would attend school Monday-Wednesday and the other half Thursday –Saturday. Logistical changes such as these would have severe consequences for working parents and carers and possibly on pupils’ attainment. Think tanks, advisors, regional governments and Unions need to put pressure on the government to ensure new Free Schools and Academies are established in areas of real need by cooperating with local councils who have on the ground intelligence.

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