Councils promise school places are not running out

Nationally, there has been a problem with finding enough school places for children

Nationally, there has been a problem with finding enough school places for children

Hannah Eade (14) and Marianne Osman (14).

Picture: Sarah Standing

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COUNCILS have denied there is a crisis with primary school places.

It comes as today is the deadline for parents to submit applications for a school place for Year R or Year 3 pupils in September.

Nationally, there has been a problem with finding enough places for children.

In Portsmouth, primary schools across the city have been expanded as a result of a £4.96m city council programme. It provided an extra 1,065 school places in the primary sector between 2013/14 and 2015/16.

But this year, it is predicted demand for Year R numbers will rise by 5.8 per cent between 2013/14 and 2015/16 from 2,353 to 2,490.

Over the same period, demand for Year 3 numbers are forecast to rise by 9.8 per cent from 2,053 to 2,256 and are predicted to continue going up until 2018/19.

Chris Williams, pupil place planning manager at the council, said: ‘In response to the rise in demand for primary school places, a number of options are being developed to expand primary provision by an extra 540 places from September across the city.

‘This is to ensure that the council can continue to fulfil its statutory obligation of providing sufficient places for September 2015 and onwards.’

Mr Williams said a rising birth rate, a reduction of pupils attending school in the local authority, inward migration and housing developments have contributed to the rise in demand.

Hampshire County Council put in a strategy in 2013 to provide 11,000 primary school places by 2018.

In 2015/16 alone, £23m will be invested.

Of the 11,000 places needed around 3,300 will be in nine new primary schools.

Councillor Peter Edgar, executive member for education, said: ‘Last year we were able to offer over 97 per cent of parents a place at one of their preferred primary schools, a trend I am confident we will continue.

‘Being in a position to build new schools and expand others is testament to Hampshire’s robust forward planning.

‘We’re aware that the pressures on primary schools will impact on secondary schools in the future, and we are planning ahead to determine how best to meet that demand when the time comes.’

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