Parents are being told they can’t send their children to the same schools as their siblings because of a migrant baby boom caused by uncontrolled EU migration.
Estimates suggest that around 80,000 children were not given places at their parents’ first choice of schools, and 20,000 did not get a place at any of their preferences, the Daily Mail reports.
The blame is being lain at the foot of a baby boom by predominantly Eastern European migrants who have settled in the UK since the borders were opened by the Labour government following EU enlargement in 2004.
It means that parents, who would usually have been able to fully participate in the school community where all their children were offered places, particularly when there was a priority for siblings, are now having to do multiple school runs and events.
Between 2000 and 2010 the numbers attending English state nursery and primary schools fell from 4.3 million to 3.9 million a year; at the same time 1,000 primary schools were also closed even though statistics revealed there would be a dramatic reversal in the trend with an increasing birth rate.
During that decade, that number increased by 22 per cent which was reflected in the Total Fertility Rate rising from 1.63 in 2001 to 2.0 in 2010 which allowed government departments to know that in the next few years there would be an increase in demand for nursery and primary school places.
The growth in the TFR was put down in part to women who had delayed having children in their 20s and 30s to concentrate on their careers. But it also reflects the growing number of children born to foreign-born mothers.
As the rise in demand for primary school places grows so, in a few years time, will the same happen to secondary school places as the baby boomers get older. This is expected to work out as a 17 per cent increase in numbers by 2023 to 3.2 million.
Research by the Office of National Statistic (ONS) shows that in 1991, 12 per cent of babies were born to mothers who themselves were not born in the UK. This increased to 16 per cent in 201 and 25 per cent in 2011. This has been put down to the increase in the number of immigrants to the UK who are likely to be in their 20s and 30s, when traditionally most women have children.
This trend will only increase as the TFR for UK-born women has been calculated to be 1,9 compared to 2.29 for women born outside the UK. Consequently, the greater number of migrants coming to the UK, the higher the TFR is predicted to get and the ratio between UK born mothers and foreign born mothers will widen.
This bulge in births – and in demand for child-related services such as education and health care needs did not come out of the blue. A paper for the Department of Education predicted the rise in primary school numbers, but the corresponding action was not taken and it is set to get worse with the education system having to cope with a million more pupils in total.
That means, without an increase in the number of schools – or the growth of schools and employment of teachers – there will be higher class sizes for state school pupils, widening the gap further between those who can afford a private education and those who can’t.
The impact is not spread evenly over the country, with parents in Lewisham, South London, taking action themselves rather than rely on the government to deal with the problem.
They have set up a pressure group called Parents 4 Primary Places which demands that a truly local school takes on an extra class this September. They discovered that a total of 274 families in the borough were allocated a school outside of their six preferences and 29 families were offered a school more than two miles away.
One of those parents, Mrs Baptiste, said: “We work hard, and I have been paying taxes for 20 years. It doesn’t seem too much to ask for my child to go to school locally. Someone mentioned to me that because the school they are offering is more than two miles away, the local authority is obliged to pay for transport, which could be a taxi.
“The thought of putting my little girl in a taxi with some random driver and waving her off is just unbearable. It is preposterous.
“Everyone has a right to an education and I feel my daughter has become a victim of a massive systemic failing.”