Severe shortage of primary school places predicted (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Severe shortage of primary school places predicted
There will be a severe shortage of primary school places in Waltham Forest by 2016, according to research published this week.
The borough has seen a rapid expansion of schools over the past few years to meet rising demand, with many having temporary classrooms installed.
Despite this, the Local Government Association has predicted primary school capacity in Waltham Forest will need to increase by 25 per cent in three years.
This is one of the largest expected shortfalls in England and Wales.
But Councillor Clare Coghill, cabinet member for children, has moved to reassure parents that plans are in place to ensure enough places are available.
She said: “This is a problem facing schools across the country and Waltham Forest has plans in place to meet the need both now and in the future.
“Providing every child in the borough with a good education is a priority for the council and we are ensuring that they all have a place in a good quality school.
"We currently have enough spaces within our schools and are planning for the future."
She added that authorities face an additional challenge because they no longer have the power to create new schools and must rely on the establishment of free schools.
Four new free schools were approved in the borough in May, including the new Walthamstow Primary Academy which will be run by United Learning.
But opponents say free schools are not the answer.
Jonathan White, of campaign group Our Community, Our Schools, said the shortage of primary school places has been caused by the government channelling money, time and effort into promoting free schools.
“A free-for-all, where schools are left to govern themselves, is a recipe for creating an anarchic market in which some schools will succeed and some will fail,” he said.
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