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London schools 'face admission crisis'

Wed 11 Nov 2009

London Councils has warned that schools in the region cannot cope with the current level of demand for places.

According to the thinktank and lobby group, about 50,000 extra places need to be created between now and 2016.

The organisation has estimated that this could cost about £880 million - more than the education sector can currently afford.

London Councils attributed this surge in demand to various factors, such as the economic downturn leading to fewer people moving out of the area, along with more children being sent to state schools rather than private institutions.

The UK's rising birth rate was also said to be putting more pressure on school places, particularly in areas such as Barking and Dagenham.

Figures from London Councils show that the birth rate in this borough is 50 per cent up on the amount recorded in 2002.

Stephen Hart, senior solicitor in Winckworth Sherwood's education law department, commented: "Schools admissions authorities have seen a vast increase in recent years in the number of appeals against admissions decisions.

"The projected levels of demand for places can only add to the burden headteachers and appeal panels already carry to justify their decisions on enrolments.

"An increased school population could lead to smaller catchment areas and more complicated admissions’ arrangements and may also create the demand for more parent-created schools on the lines envisaged by the Conservative party."

The prediction comes shortly after schools secretary Ed Balls said he wants to ensure there is a "fair and efficient" schools admissions process in Britain.



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