Primary School Places New Schools and Classrooms

Primary school places: New schools and classrooms

Research issued: 25/09/2015

New schools and classrooms

More than 11,000 new primary school classrooms needed by 2024

  • 336,000 extra primary school pupils forecast by 2024
  • London, South of England and Northern Powerhouse cities will see biggest increase
  • A new school will need to be created every two days to meet the shortfall

New research from SCAPE reveals that local authorities need to build the equivalent of 11,200 classrooms and as many as 1,600 new primary schools in the next 9 years, to meet the needs of Britain’s growing primary population.

With the number of primary school pupils in England expected to rise from 4,376,000 in 2015 to 4,658,000 in 2019, local authorities face a fierce challenge against a landscape of tight budget constraints. The numbers demonstrate the challenge facing local authorities, who need to make big increases in capacity to house the extra pupils within just four years. By 2024 this will have risen to 4,712,000, a rise of 336,000 (8%) on 2015.

The annual rate of increase in pupil numbers is set to peak in 2016 at 2.6% - meaning commissioners need to act now to meet the rising demand. Pupil numbers are expected to stabilise by 2024, but, as Table 1 shows, the total rise could be as high as 680,000 in 2024 if fertility rates and migration numbers are higher than currently predicted. The government’s 2011 forecasts for births and pupil numbers proved to be much lower than the actual birth rate in subsequent years.

The challenges faced by Bedford Borough Council are by no means unique. With local council budgets under increasing pressure and more cuts on the horizon, approaches to procurement and classroom delivery need to be more creative. SCAPE’s approach with its experienced construction partners and innovative design solutions have secured significant savings, increased the capacity and quality of the teaching environments, but also delivered a range of wider benefits to the surrounding area. Replicating the approach pioneered in Bedford across the UK could be truly beneficial for local communities and enhance the quality of the education we are providing.

Peter Hansford, Government Chief Construction Adviser