Britain needs 1,600 new primary schools to cope with the explosion in demand caused by rising immigration, a new study has found. An education charity has warned of a “perfect storm” threatening Britain’s education system, caused by a massive rise in demand coinciding with funding cuts.
Despite the Conservative Party’s promises to cut net migration to the tens of thousands, last year saw 330,000 people entering the country, the highest number ever recorded in a single year, and a 42 percent increase on the previous year, according to OECD figures.
Analysis by education charity the New Schools Network has shown that among those newcomers were 37,975 primary school age children, all eligible to start school this September.
In 2010 the figure was 14,769, which means there has been a staggering 160 percent increase in demand for school places from immigrant families over just five years.
These high levels of migration are having a serious effect on school places, not least as migrants tend to resettle in areas where there is already a shortage of places, such as central London, Birmingham and Manchester.
101,000 children are already educated in class sizes larger than the legal maximum, and more than 3,300 primaries are already set to fall below new government performance standards. At the same time, the education services grant handed to local authorities is set to be cut by £200 million over the next year
Nick Timothy, Director of New Schools Network said: “This analysis shows the full effects of large scale immigration on our primary schools and how it is contributing towards a perfect storm for primaries.
“It’s clear that England urgently needs more new schools to address this record level of demand. Simply expanding existing schools is not the answer, because we already know that one in five of the new places created by expanding primaries have been in schools that Ofsted say are failing. Free schools are best placed to respond to this rising demand and improve school standards across the country.
“This is particularly important because, as long as EU free movement rules apply, net migration is not likely to come down at any point soon.
“There will also soon be a knock-on effect on secondary school places where already three-quarters of the local authorities with the highest levels of net migration are in desperate need of new places.”
In areas where the need for primary places is greatest, the average migration level for councils is almost twice as high than the national average, the charity has found.
Of the 20 local authorities with the highest international net migration levels at primary school age, all but four have a serious need to create new places, based on population estimates and current capacity.
Top of the list is Newham in London, which needs to create an extra 7,588 over the next three years if it is to meet increased migrant demand. But it is also experiencing one of the highest levels of net immigration of primary school age children, second only to Westminster.
Eight of the top 10 council areas for child migration are in London, even as the city struggles to find the space for new schools to be set up.
Beyond London, Kent is also struggling under the weight of migration, thanks to being particularly hard hit by the responsibility of children being smuggled across the Channel. It will need to find another 6,800 places over the next three years. Manchester is facing similar problems, and will need to create 5,776 during that timescale.
Ukip’s migration spokesman, Steven Woolfe MEP told the Express: “These numbers show just how ridiculous it is to reduce the argument of how many refugees the UK should take to one of individual compassion.
“The number of migrants coming to the UK has much more profound effects on our communities than on just how nice we are as a people and where immigrants sleep.
“The impact on public services like health, education and on infrastructure like roads, water and sewage is too often ignored. The stark reality is that many communities are struggling to educate the children who already live in them.”
The report comes as a survey found that Britain will need to build 1,600 new primary schools over the next nine years in order to meet growing demand fuelled by immigration. The public sector contractor Scape Group found that local authorities will have to create the equivalent of 11,200 classrooms to cope with an estimated 336,000 extra primary pupils by 2024.
Simon Reid, of Scape Group, said: “As the extra pupils at primary level move towards secondary school, there will be increasing pressure on local authorities to deliver extra secondary school buildings, which are much larger and require extra facilities.”
Barking and Dagenham council in East London has already drawn up plans for a major new secondary school, which will cater for more than 2,500 pupils.
Tory MP Peter Bone told the Daily Mail: “This is why there’s such a demand to control our own borders and one of the reasons why so many people want to come out of the European Union. Whether it’s housing, schools, hospitals, GPs – the number of people coming here is not sustainable.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “We want every parent to have access to a good school place for their child – that’s why funding for school places doubled to £5 billion in the last parliament to create 445,000 extra pupil places, reversing the decline of 200,000 places between 2004 and 2010.
“More than 300 free schools have opened since 2010 and we are committed to opening at least 500 during this parliament – these will create over 400,000 new school places and ensure even more parents have access to a good local school for their child.”