Labour Sparks Debate over School Places Crisis
Labour have recently sparked a fresh row over an upcoming ‘overcrowding crisis’ in British schools. Labour have basically blamed the current coalition Government of creating the crisis through lack of funding and investment. Tristram Hunt, the Shadow Education Secretary stated: “David Cameron is failing in his most important duty to children in this country – to ensure every child has a place at a good local school. He has created a crisis in school places, ignoring the warnings and diverting millions of pounds away from children in areas where there are shortages of places.”
Recent analysis of 131 freedom of information responses from local authorities revealed that 32 local authorities believed that Government funding for primary school places would be insufficient to meet the demand for primary school places needed in the 2015/6 intake.
In addition, 33 of the local authorities are cited as believing that the Department of Education cost assumptions for new places in schools are unrealistic and too low. The Coalition Government have hit back at Labour’s assertions claiming that over the course of their Parliament, £5 billion will be made available for new primary school places, with 260,000 having already been created.
Figures released before Christmas 2013 interestingly tend to back up Labour’s assumptions. These figures revealed that 3514 schools in England were over their official capacity in May 2013. This suggest there is a school places crisis of some sort looming, or already in progress.
What is without doubt is that any crisis will be exacerbated in the future as primary school rolls are expected to rise sharply in the next few years. Only the future will tell which political party is correct. At the end of the day, it will be the children who suffer if sufficient provision and investment isn’t made.