Research raises concern of primary school places crisis (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Research raises concern of primary school places crisis in Redbridge
There is a primary school crisis looming, with an estimated 4,000 places needed in just three years to meet rising demand, it is claimed.
Research by the Department of Education has highlighted the massive shortfall, with an expansion equivalent to eight new schools needed to provide an education for all eligible children in the borough.
However, many schools are already over-subscribed, with Aldersbrook Primary School in Wanstead taking on 660 pupils despite having only 620 places.
And Churchfields Primary School in South Woodford has 485 students, but only 392 official spaces.
A high birth rate is being blamed for the shortfall, with a rise of 32 per cent between 2003 and 2010.
The Labour opposition say the Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition must do more to secure investment.
Deputy leader of Redbridge Labour Group, Cllr Wes Streeting, described the amount of money needed to address the problem as “enormous”.
He said: “Too many parents are already struggling to find places at their local schools for their children.
“Redbridge has been very badly let down by a shortfall in expected funding to tackle the school places crisis.
“Instead of rolling over and accepting this, Redbridge Council should be lobbying their government to stop public money being wasted on the failing Free Schools initiative in places where new schools aren’t needed and prioritise Redbridge instead.
"It’s time the government stopped wasting money on new free schools in areas where they’re not needed and instead prioritised boroughs like ours as the funding we need is enormous."
However Ian Bond, deputy leader of the council, denied there was a crisis.
He said: “A shortage of primary school places is one of the council’s main issues but I would not call it a crisis.
“We receive around £100 million of capital from central government to help with this problem.
"We have coped well in the last four years and we expect that to continue.
“It is a big challenge for us but we have created thousands of school places in the last few years without a huge amount of funding."
A shortage of school places is not only affecting primary schools.
Intakes at Ilford County High and Woodford County High Schools look set to increase from 120 to 180.
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