Primary School Pupil Population Expected To Soar
A surge in population growth fuelled by a rising birth rate has meant primary schools in the UK will be at their most crowded than ever before. Some experts suggest that schools will struggle to cope with the demand for primary education in the next three years, as population figures reach levels last seen in the 1970s.
According to statistics from the Department for Education the number of primary school children is predicted to rise by 8 percent by the year 2015, an increase from 3.6million to 3.8million pupils. And by 2010 it is estimated there will be around 4.8 million children between the ages of four and eleven attending primary education.
On the contrary secondary school figures have dropped and will continue for the next three years until the surge has fed through the system. This will go up once primary pupils progress into secondary education.
Birth rates in Britain fell in the late 1990s which led to a decline in pupil numbers attending state primary schools in 2000. But since 2002 the figures have been steadily increasing with a prediction that they will continue to rise until 2014.
Labour ministers said the figures showed there was a definite crisis in the system. However schools minister Lord Hill criticised the Labour government for its inaction whilst in power. “The last government knew there was an issue as early as 2004, but sadly did nothing,” he said. “Worse than that, they actually cut funding for new places while squandering millions on expensive secondary schools.”
In a statement the LibDem Tory coalition pledged a sum of £4bn to be spent to accommodate for the increase in demand for primary schooling.
Some regions in the UK are already feeling the squeeze with local authorities in London reporting they will need a further 70,000 school places over the next two years. In East London, officials are considering adopting “split shift sessions”, where one groups of students is taught between 8am and 2pm, and the other group between 2pm and 7pm.
According to the DfE London will see an increase of 18% in pupil number, and 9% in the south-west and north-east of England.