Labour slams 'school places crisis'

Andover Advertiser: Labour says figures suggest the number of primary pupils at the start of the academic year in September will outstrip the places currently available in more than a quarter of council areas in England Labour says figures suggest the number of primary pupils at the start of the academic year in September will outstrip the places currently available in more than a quarter of council areas in England

Labour has accused the Government of creating a "crisis in school places" after publishing analysis suggesting that numbers of primary pupils at the start of the academic year in September will outstrip the places currently available in more than a quarter of council areas in England.

Freedom of information responses from 131 local authorities showed that 32 - a quarter of the total - believe that Government funding for additional primary places is insufficient to meet demand for 2015/16 and 33 thought Department for Education (DfE) cost assumptions for new places were not "realistic".

But the DfE dismissed Labour's figures as "bogus", arguing that they did not take into account new places created since 2012/13 - the latest year for which figures are available. A spokesman said the Government was providing £5 billion for new primary places over the course of the Parliament, which had already resulted in the creation of space for 260,000 more children.

The row comes just days before parents find out whether their child has got a place at their chosen school on April 16.

Figures released by the DfE shortly before Christmas showed that 3,514 schools across England had more pupils than their official capacity last May, but no councils reported having more pupils than places overall.

However, with primary school rolls expected to rise sharply in the next few years, some 40 councils (26% of the total) were forecasting that they will have more pupils than their 2012/13 space provision by the start of the 2014/15 academic year, rising to 70 authorities (46%) in 2015/16, 93 (61%) in 2016/17 and 101 (66%) in 2017/18.

Labour argues that money has been diverted away from areas threatened with shortages by the Government's focus on the free school programme, following a National Audit Office report which found that £241 million of the £950 million projected capital spend on mainstream free schools was in "districts with no forecast need for extra school places".

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: "David Cameron is failing in his most important duty to children in this country - to ensure every child has a place at a good local school. He has created a crisis in school places, ignoring the warnings and diverting millions of pounds away from children in areas where there are shortages of places.

"This is damaging standards in our schools, with class sizes soaring, more temporary and unsuitable classrooms and children forced to travel further and further to get to school.

"A future Labour government will have the right priorities for driving up school standards. We will prioritise new school places in areas where there are shortages, have rigorous local oversight of schools and ensure that all teachers have or are working towards qualified teacher status."

However a DfE spokesman said: "These figures are bogus. They are based on a completely false comparison and would only be true if local authorities had taken no action to create places since 2012/13, despite the huge amounts of money we have given them.

"We are giving councils £5 billion to spend on new school places over this Parliament - double the amount allocated by the previous government over an equivalent period.

"This funding has already led to the creation of 260,000 new school places, all of which are in areas where there is a shortage of places. All councils should now have plans in place to meet the need for this September and we will hold to account any that fails to do so.

"In addition we have also confirmed a further £2 billion for basic need up to 2017. Investment in free schools is on top of this funding, and in fact seven in 10 free school places are in areas of basic need."

Labour said that the pressure on school places had resulted in the number of "titan" primaries with over 800 pupils more than doubling from 16 in 2010 to 43 last year, while the number of infants taught in classes of over 30 over the same period increased from 31,265 to 71,935.

Comments (2)

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3:44pm Sun 6 Apr 14

bmoc55 says...

Of course this has nothing to do with Labour!!!!!! the party in Government who allowed unfettered immigration when they were in power. These immigrants have started families so Labour are not blamless in this problem.
But of course hypocritical to the core they seek to place the blame 100 per cent on others.
Of course this has nothing to do with Labour!!!!!! the party in Government who allowed unfettered immigration when they were in power. These immigrants have started families so Labour are not blamless in this problem. But of course hypocritical to the core they seek to place the blame 100 per cent on others. bmoc55
  • Score: 4

11:29am Mon 7 Apr 14

welshmen says...

This Mess is LABOURS FAULT 100%, thanks to Traitor BLAIR & BROWN & the worst Immigrant traitor is Immigrant JACK STRAW along with Immigrant PETER HAIN the South African, now the Marxist Immigrant Millipead is trying to save his Parties Back side by blaming Immigrant Cameroons Government, the irony of it, our Country nearly destroyed by IMMIGRANTS in power and will be unless WE change the status quo.

Immigrants breed more than the British, the more they have the more Benefits they receive and it increases their chances to settle here, when settled here they can then apply for other family members to come here and so it go's on and on like it has for decades, especially from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. we haven't enough Houses, Schools, NHS outlets to accommodate them now, five years done the line with 200,000 a year net, there are already 9850 kids waiting for places in schools in our Country.

To all you Liberal elite who WANTED this and more SHAME ON YOU, if you support the EU & third world immigrants PLEASE PLEASE go and live with them because British Patriots (British born and bred) don't want you in our Country,.

Before you Liberal Elite regurgitate the famous battle cry of the Liberal Elite "Immigration is good for Great Britain" well sorry IT'S NOT, according to the latest report by Migration Watch Immigration has cost this country from 1995 to 2011 £148 Billion, or £22 Million a week, just look it up doubters, TOO GET OUR COUNTRY BACK VOTE UKIP or BNP either will do the job required, British FIRST not last....
This Mess is LABOURS FAULT 100%, thanks to Traitor BLAIR & BROWN & the worst Immigrant traitor is Immigrant JACK STRAW along with Immigrant PETER HAIN the South African, now the Marxist Immigrant Millipead is trying to save his Parties Back side by blaming Immigrant Cameroons Government, the irony of it, our Country nearly destroyed by IMMIGRANTS in power and will be unless WE change the status quo. Immigrants breed more than the British, the more they have the more Benefits they receive and it increases their chances to settle here, when settled here they can then apply for other family members to come here and so it go's on and on like it has for decades, especially from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. we haven't enough Houses, Schools, NHS outlets to accommodate them now, five years done the line with 200,000 a year net, there are already 9850 kids waiting for places in schools in our Country. To all you Liberal elite who WANTED this and more SHAME ON YOU, if you support the EU & third world immigrants PLEASE PLEASE go and live with them because British Patriots (British born and bred) don't want you in our Country,. Before you Liberal Elite regurgitate the famous battle cry of the Liberal Elite "Immigration is good for Great Britain" well sorry IT'S NOT, according to the latest report by Migration Watch Immigration has cost this country from 1995 to 2011 £148 Billion, or £22 Million a week, just look it up doubters, TOO GET OUR COUNTRY BACK VOTE UKIP or BNP either will do the job required, British FIRST not last.... welshmen
  • Score: 1
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