‘Critical’ shortage of Peterborough school places from 2017

John Holdich at the Town Hall EMN-151130-162627009

John Holdich at the Town Hall EMN-151130-162627009

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A shortage of school places in Peterborough will reach “critical” levels next year as the council struggles to cope with the number of people moving into the city.

Peterborough City Council expects to run out of places in some year groups next September and claims the situation will be even worse in 2018.

According to its report, the surge of people moving into the city “will place a strain on the system and is a risk to meeting the council’s statutory responsibility to provide sufficient school places.”

A shortage of Year Two pupils saw Gladstone Primary School last month introduce a ‘bulge’ class - an additional class to what the school normally takes.

Further bulge classes could be required from next year, despite it being revealed that Ormiston Bushfield Academy and Nene Park Academy are set to expand by two forms of entry from September 2018.

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said: “The council should not only meet its legal obligations but exceed them. That’s what the public expects.

“Problems such as this are not unique to Peterborough. They happen elsewhere too and they are dealt with. To say next year there is still a problem will not be acceptable.”

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said he had sympathy with the council over the “churn” of new immigrant pupils from the EU, but “less sympathy with their housing targets which do not include proper infrastructure planning and exacerbate the problem of a lack of school places.”

A shortage of 43 places in primary schools and two in secondary schools is predicted in 2017/18 even if planned school developments go ahead. The council said from January 2015 to January 2016 there was an increase of 981 pupils, with 600 new school applications this summer.

At a scrutiny meeting on Monday, council leader and cabinet member for education Councillor John Holdich said school place provision was adequate until a surge of migrants into the city from 2008.

He added: “I’m absolutely confident we will maintain the high percentage we have on preferences for places.”

Brian Howard, the council’s head of schools infrastructure, said he had no doubts every child would get a school place next year.

A council spokesman said pupils in a bulge class would not have their education affected. He added that teacher recruitment is the responsibility of schools, but that the council has developed a teacher training centre.