Construction of 640 new schools needed as pupil numbers soar

Grant Prior 2 months ago
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A mass building programme of 640 new schools will be needed over the next two years as an additional 385,000 pupils join England’s school system.

Latest research by public sector procurement specialist Scape Group shows 12,835 new school classrooms will be needed to keep-up with demand.

Over the next two years, every region in England will experience at least a 3%  increase on the current number of pupils.

London, the South East and the South West can all expect to see the largest increases alongside Birmingham and Manchester.

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, said: “As with many critical issues that desperately need political attention, education has dropped down the agenda as government bodies focus on Brexit and our future position with the rest of the world.

“Every region in England needs to build more schools, and local authorities nationwide will be feeling the strain.

“We must collectively focus on delivering a strategy and solutions which not only provide high-quality, modern spaces for teaching and learning but also offer our colleagues in local authorities cost certainty, value for money and timely delivery.

“The current government believes free schools are the answer, but I would argue that this standpoint has been born out of ideological stubbornness, rather than a genuine effort to tackle the school places crisis.

“Deploying government resources to existing school structures instead would enable local authorities to refurbish and extend current schools to provide additional school places. This would be a much more efficient way of spending taxpayers’ money.

“It is vital that we focus on solutions that will allow us to create additional school places quickly and resourcefully, without compromising on quality. Offsite technology is one answer.

“While the Education and Skills Funding Agency started its push for modular four years ago, only 70 schools have been built using offsite construction so far.

“Modern Methods of Construction not only enable quick construction but can also cost local authorities significantly less.

“Until the government takes more pragmatic action, they cannot claim to be safeguarding the futures of young people.”

 

Scape Group’s recommendations on how to tackle the School Places Challenge

  • The adoption of offsite construction as the main method of building for all new schools and extensions would ensure that they are built faster than traditional methods. If modular can grow in scale, building schools will become more efficient and cost-effective.
  • A fairer education funding model for local authorities, which ensures that they can work with central government to set budgets that reflect local need. In particular, local authorities should play a part in judging and approving free school proposals to make sure that new schools are established where they are most needed.
  • Greater collaboration between councils and developers to ensure that secondary schools are built in major urban extensions and developments first, through agreements between developers seeking planning permission and the local planning authority (Section 106 agreements).   

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