London faces £9,000 per-pupil bill in school places crisis

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London’s local authorities are spending £9,000 per pupil to subsidise insufficient school places funding from central government.

London Councils, which represents the capital’s 33 local authorities, says that “the scale of the school places crisis in London is vast”, with 83,470 places needed to be created between 2014 and 2017.

Between 2010 and September 2013, London’s boroughs created more than 46,000 school places, but an analysis by London Councils says more funding is needed to continue this expansion.

The £9,000 per-pupil figure is calculated on the basis of a shortfall of £1.04 billion that it estimates the capital needs in order to build the additional school places. 

It also points out that while funding to local government will have fallen by 35 per cent in real terms by 2014/15, between 2001 and 2011, the capital’s school age population rose by 107, 000 – a growth rate of 8.2 per cent compared with the 0.2 per cent national average. 

Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ executive member for children’s services, said: “Councils are pulling out all the stops to create places, but London’s rising population, particularly at school age, means they are running to stand still. Frankly, this is just not sustainable.

“Families will rightly be asking why the government isn’t doing more to avoid putting pupils’ education at risk. Councils need sufficient funding to do this job and can’t simply be left to pick up the tab.”

Other regions are also facing pressures to create additional places, but the problem is most acute in the capital, with London Councils’ analysis noting that London accounts for 42 per cent of the future school place need.

London Councils has welcomed the £576 million it received in the recent capital allocations, but has emphasized that this is “far from sufficient to meet the growing need caused by a rising birth rate, fewer pupils attending private schools, and changes in where parents can afford to live due to the rising cost of housing in London”.

Cllr Peter John added: “Cash-strapped councils could otherwise spend this money on school equipment or other essential services. 

“The government needs to reassure worried parents and provide adequate school funding.”

 


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