2,000 extra schools needed by 2020 to cope with rising pupil numbers

MORE THAN 2,000 new schools must be built by 2020 to cope with the rising number of primary and secondary pupils in England, according to a new report.

Research by Scape Group shows local authorities are expecting an additional 729,000 pupils in education by the end of the decade, a rise of 8.6 per cent in primary pupils and 12 per cent in secondary schools.

To accommodate this increase, the equivalent of two new schools must be created each working day, it added.

Of the 2,122 new schools needed - the equivalent of 12,209 primary classrooms and 12,078 secondary classrooms - almost a quarter, 507, are needed in London. The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham will see the biggest increase in pupil numbers, requiring 28 new schools.

Outside London, Manchester will see a 19,000 increase in primary and secondary pupils by 2020 - a 27 per cent rise that will require the equivalent of 57 new schools. Rapid growth is also expected in Bristol, Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Leicester and Nottingham.

Scape noted that the UK's decision to leave the EU could have a "profound effect" on population, with potential for a short-term surge in migration from Europe or a drop-off in numbers if migrants are put off from coming here. The difficulty in being able to accurately predict the impact of Brexit is putting even more pressure on local authorities responsible for planning how and where to prioritise school-building.

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, said: "As the growth of the primary school population gathers pace, the pressure on school places will soon transfer to the secondary population, requiring a new wave of advanced school building. The Government's preference for free schools has created uncertainty for local authorities, who are tasked with planning and building new schools, but will not be responsible for running them. Proposals for new grammar schools has further muddied the waters.

"In a post-Brexit economy, with all of the uncertainty this brings, the construction of new schools must be a top priority for Government and local authorities must be given the tools and funding necessary to deliver extra places in time. Creative solutions including standardised design, classroom extensions and larger 'super-schools', as well as more effective use of land to deliver mixed-use developments, are all options we need to look at to deliver more new schools."