Mary Creagh MP

Working hard for Wakefield

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Cameron’s classroom squeeze

Cameron’s classroom squeeze: more than one in 10 Wakefield primary schools is over capacity, as parents rush to meet deadline to apply for a primary school place

As parents rush to meet the deadline for primary school applications this week, new analysis of Labour Party Freedom of Information requests reveals that more than one in 10 local primary schools does not have enough capacity for its pupils – forcing many children into large classes or temporary, make-shift classrooms.

The problem is likely to get worse, with an estimated 236 extra primary school places needed by 2019.

At the same time, hundreds of millions of pounds are being spent on David Cameron’s flagship Free Schools in areas where there is no shortage of school places. Responses to recent Freedom of Information requests show that four in five of the new Free Schools this academic year had not filled all their places on opening – just two of the new mainstream primary Free Schools had all the pupils they planned for.

Mary Creagh MP said:

“David Cameron has broken his promise to cut class sizes. As Wakefield parents put in their applications it’s shocking that so many local schools don’t have enough space. Cameron’s classroom squeeze has seen the number of infants taught in classes of over 30 more than treble since 2010. Local children and families In Wakefield are being let down by this Government. Labour will ensure that spending on new schools is prioritised in areas of need.”

Ends

Notes to editors 

  • As the deadline for primary school applications approaches (15th January 2015), responses to Freedom of Information requests reveal that more than one in 10 primary schools are full or over capacity:
  Number of schools (primary) Percentage of schools (primary)
Local Authority At capacity Over capacity 10% or less spare capacity At or over capacity In total At capacity Over capacity 10% or less spare capacity At or over capacity
Wakefield

3

12

49

15

114

2.6%

10.5%

43.0%

13.2%

  • Source: Responses to the Freedom of Information request asking “How many (i) primary schools (ii) secondary schools in the local authority are a) at capacity b) over capacity c) have 10% or less spare capacity d) there in total?”, sent on 5th November 2014.
  • Responses to Freedom of Information requests also reveal there is still a desperate need for more primary school places:

 

  Number of additional primary school places required by:
Local Authority

Sep-15

Sep-16

Sep-17

Sep-18

Sep-19

Wakefield

53

112

164

200

236

Source: Responses to the Freedom of Information request asking “How many additional i) primary ii) secondary school places are needed in the local authority by the September of the following years; 2015; 2016; 2017? Please give the figures cumulatively”, sent on 5th November 2014.

 

Increase in large classes since 2010

  • The Tory-led Government’s crisis in school places has seen the number of infants taught in classes of over 30 has soared since 2010 – up by 378 per cent.

 

 
         
 

Number of infants in large classes (over 30)

 

Jan-10

Jan-14

Difference 2010-14

% change 2010-14

         
YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER (4)

5,240

14,980

9,740

186%

Wakefield

189

903

714

378%

Sources: DfE, Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2010, 13 May 2010

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/218952/main_20text_20sfr092010.pdf
DfE, Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2014, 12 June 2014,
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2014

  •  At the same time, hundreds of millions of pounds are being spent on David Cameron’s flagship Free Schools in areas where there is no shortage of school places. As of 2013 David Cameron had spent at least £241 million opening new schools in areas where there was no shortage of school places.

“The estimated total capital costs for Schools opened in districts with no forecast need for extra school places are at least £241 million out of a projected total of £950 million for mainstream Schools.”

NAO, Establishing Free Schools, p7, 11 December 2013, http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/10314-001-Free-Schools-Book.pdf

  • Last year it was revealed that the Government had raided the basic need budget for school places by £400 million to fund a black hole in the Free Schools programme.

“The coalition government has descended into open war on education as senior Liberal Democrats said Michael Gove had raided £400m from a fund that guarantees school places for pupils in order to plug a massive financial “black hole” in his free schools programme.

According to the coalition insider, the £400m would be enough to fund 30,000 new school places, and would do much to ease pressure in areas where parents struggle to find places. It is understood that Gove tried to make up the remaining shortfall by using a further £400m underspent from other departmental budgets.”

The Guardian, 10 May 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/10/gove-lunatic-raid-free-schools

  • In their 2010 manifesto, the Conservative Party promised to create “small schools with smaller class sizes” and David Cameron has said “The more we can get class sizes down the better”.

“A Conservative government will give many more children access to the kind of education that is currently only available to the well-off: safe classrooms, talented and specialist teachers, access to the best curriculum and exams, and smaller schools with smaller class sizes with teachers who know the children’s names.”

Conservative Party Manifesto 2010, p. 51

“The more we can get class sizes down the better”.

David Cameron, Yorkshire Post Q&A, 18 April 2008P

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