Cameron’s classroom squeeze: almost one in five schools is over capacity, as parents rush to meet deadline to apply for a primary school place
As parents rush to meet the deadline for primary school applications this week, new analysis of Freedom of Information requests reveals that almost one in five primary schools does not have enough capacity for its pupils – forcing many children into large classes or temporary, make-shift classrooms.
This is a big problem in Stockton as you will see below.
Nationally schools feeling the squeeze on places include:
A primary school in Northumberland that has bought and converted a double decker bus into a classroom, after running out of space in the school building, with toilets and cupboards already converted into teaching spaces.
A primary school in Bristol that has annexed and converted a police station to cope with the demand.
Responses to Freedom of Information requests also suggest that this problem is likely to get worse, with many local authorities still facing a desperate need for more school places – more than three quarters of councils are in need of additional primary school places over the next three years.
At the same time, hundreds of millions of pounds are being spent on David Cameron’s flagship Free Schools in areas where there is no shortage of school places. Responses to recent Freedom of Information requests show that four in five of the new Free Schools this academic year had not filled all their places on opening - just two of the new mainstream primary Free Schools had all the pupils they planned for.
Tristram Hunt MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
"Parents have a big choice to make at the election in May. On education the choice is this: a Labour Party committed to sensible and pragmatic solutions for overcome the growing pressures on school places, or David Cameron's irresponsible schools policy that prioritises money for new schools in areas with surplus places.
"David Cameron told us before the last election that he would deliver small schools and smaller class sizes. Instead Cameron’s classroom squeeze has seen a two-hundred per cent increase in the number of infant children taught in classes of more than thirty. Labour will ensure that spending on new schools is prioritised in areas of need.”
Louise Baldock, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate said
“This is a real and vital issue in Stockton South. For instance in Ingleby Barwick our junior schools are full; I was recently contacted by a resident whose house sale fell through when the prospective buyers realised there was no school place for their 6 year old on the estate. Yet the Government is spending £11million on a new Free School for secondary school children when there is a glut of places for that age group already in the south of the borough.
I recently visited Levendale Primary School in Yarm where children are desperate for more space, one hundredth of the sum being spent on the Free School would make all the difference in the world to them. The Conservatives are letting our children down.”