Leading Charles Dickens biographer Claire Tomalin has...
- Education Professionals
Emergency classrooms set up in shops
Growing numbers of under-11s will face being taught in empty shops, churches and football stadiums because of an acute shortage of primary school places, it emerged today.
Amid a surge in demand for primary education places caused by immigration and rising birth rates, teachers are being forced to stage emergency lessons in make-shift classrooms.
Official Government forecasts show that almost 455,000 extra primary school places will be needed in England within the next three years to deal with an increase in the number of four and five-year-olds. Labour claim the equivalent of 2,030 more schools must be created by 2015 to cope with the surge.
In some cases, councils are already being forced to teach pupils in empty commercial and public buildings because of the squeeze on space. In Barking and Dagenham, the council is proposing to rent out an empty Woolworth’s store and MFI warehouse to stage temporary classes.
Elsewhere, children have been forced to eat their school meals in “shifts” because of a lack of canteen space.
Figures from the Department for Education show that 10 per cent more primary school places – 454,571 – will be needed before the next General Election.
Last year, the Treasury announced that £1.2bn of extra funding would be made available over the course of this parliament to create more school places. But this includes a commitment to build around 100 free schools – flagship institutions run by churches, charities and parents’ groups – which will often cater for secondary school pupils.