Redbridge’s acute school places shortage causes Westminster meeting

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and a delegation from Redbridge Council met with the Department of Edu

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and a delegation from Redbridge Council met with the Department of Education on Wednesday to discuss the potential availability of land in the borough on which to build new schools - Credit: Vickie Flores/Archant

A delegation from Redbridge Council attending a meeting with the Department of Education as the borough faces a shortage of 6,500 school places by 2022.

The meeting took place in Parliament last Wednesday after Ilford North MP Wes Streeting raised a question in the House of Commons in October and asked to discuss additional funding and potential sites for Redbridge Council to respond to the “acute” shortage in school places.

According to a council report, 2,940 primary places are required by 2022/23 and a further 3,570 secondary places are needed before 2020/21.

In the last 10 years, the gap in funding between the total basic need grant and the expenditure to provide new school places was £20million, a figure which is predicted to grow to a £36.7m shortfall by 2017/18.

Mr Streeting, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for children and young people Cllr Elaine Norman, director of children’s services Pat Reynolds, and chief planning and resources officer John O’Keefe, attended the meeting with Lord Nash, the Under Secretary of State for Schools.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting told the Recorder the meeting was “constructive and practical” and looked at the challenges the council will face by the end of the decade and especially the shortage of funding to provide new places.

He added Lord Nash had “praised” the work Redbridge Council had done to provide quality education and recognised the pressures it is now facing.

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Cllr Norman said the meeting had been “very useful” and the council would provide Lord Nash with further information in order to plan for the long term and find sites for new schools.

Mr Streeting said it was also important to identify new sites to build new schools as expanding existing schools will not be sufficient to ease the school places shortage.

The release of NHS land by the government was discussed as potential sites where new schools could be built.

The MP said he would make school places a priority because increasing numbers of parents were unable to put their children at the local school, and said financial pressures on local government were “immense”.

“The most important thing is to make sure that every Redbridge child has access to a good high quality school education,” he added.

Read more in Thursday’s Recorder.