Pupils places cost millions

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An unprecedented rise in the number of school pupils has put severe pressure on schools in the city - costing £100 million.

Peterborough City Council has revealed that since 2006 the number of pupils being taught in secondary and primary school in the city has increased by 7,360 to 35,617.

Education

Education

The council has created 9,000 new school places as a result - but has had to borrow £100 million after the government only funded part of the £300 million cost.

Councillor John Holdich, leader of the council, said: “The growth in the number of school children in Peterborough is phenomenal and certainly unprecedented. The fact that Peterborough schools are now teaching more than 7,000 extra children than they were ten years ago provides a clear indication of the rise in population that we have experienced in recent times which we are not properly funded for by central government.

“Education is one of the key areas we are lobbying government on as part of our Stand Up For Peterborough campaign which calls for fairer funding. Because government funding hasn’t covered the cost over the past decade the council has had to borrow, on average, more than £27,000 every day to invest in creating more school places. “

Last week Paul Brooker, Ofsted’s East of England Regional Director, said Peterborough school’s attainment was behind where it should be - with issues including pupil in-year admission and churn causing problems.

Over the next four years the council will need to build an additional secondary school and three new primary schools and expand one secondary and two primary schools, to create an additional 2,865 additional places.

It is expected the council will need to borrow an additional £18million to fund the growth.

One of those schools which is currently being expanded is Nene Park Academy.

Principal Steve Howard said: "When I arrived just over five years ago we had a little under 800 students and at the moment we are up to over 1,100 children. In the next few years our intake number is changing from 180 each year to 240 so over the next five years we will be taking an extra 300 children.

"The increase in numbers then gives us pressure on space around the school, so that's not just classroom space, but it's also communal space, things like the dinner hall, recreation spaces for the children.

"A few years ago we had a £14.5million build that Peterborough City Council paid for and with the latest increase in numbers there is an additional new build ongoing which will create an additional 18 classrooms at a cost of £4.5million."

Cllr Lynne Ayres, cabinet member for education, said: “The number of school children in Peterborough is set to continue to rise. We need 2,500 more places in the next four years and without fairer funding we will have to borrow even more money, which will impact on the services we are able to provide for residents.”

Residents are being urged to back the Stand Up For Peterborough campaign byleaving comments at www.peterborough.gov.uk/StandUpForPeterborough