Surplus of primary school places now but shortage expected within 10 years

School children during a Year 5 class

Plans for a number of new housing developments mean the surplus of school places is expected to become a shortage of almost 650 school spaces by 2030. - Credit: PA

There are more than 600 unused primary school spaces across Redbridge after a drop in the number of families in the borough.

Schools receive thousands of pounds in funding per pupil, meaning any unexpected reduction in numbers will be a blow to their budget during an already difficult financial period.

Mayespark Primary School, Goodmayes Lane, Goodmayes, currently has 39 fewer students than the previous year. As of next year, this many students will represent £163,020 worth of funding.

At the Redbridge Schools Funding Forum on January 13, the council’s director of education Colin Stewart said migration into Redbridge is falling as more families leave London.

However, he said plans for a number of new housing developments mean this surplus is expected to become a shortage of almost 650 school spaces by 2030.

He said: “The issue in primary schools is partly about the reduction in migration into the borough from other parts of the UK and in people moving in from overseas.

“There’s also an increase in families moving out of outer London and further east.”

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Figures provided by the council showed there are currently 606 surplus school spaces across the borough.

However, within a few years the council expects to see this trend reverse due to the number of new housing developments, to the point where schools risk becoming overcrowded.

In the south and east of Redbridge – including areas like Aldborough, Goodmayes and Seven Kings – the council expects to see a shortage of almost 400 school spaces by 2030.

Regarding this portion of the borough, Mr Steward said: “The current surplus will start to reduce across the years and will start to become a lack of places from 2025.

“By 2031, we are looking at the equivalent of a whole new primary school: 396 places.”

He added that there were discussions ongoing about where to place a new primary school in the borough to cope with the expected deficit.

Once lockdown is sufficiently relaxed, architects will also begin to visit the borough’s schools to see if they could be extended to fit more students in future.