19th Dec, 2018

Housing developers blamed for mounting pressure on school places

HOUSING developers have been blamed for the pressure mounting on school places in Warwickshire.

Government figures predict the county will be short of 6,000 secondary schools places by September 2021 and by 4,500 primary places. A further shortfall of 2,000 is predicted for secondary schools by the academic year beginning 2023.

Green Party county councillor Jonathan Chilvers said: “The county council are responsible for ensuring there are enough school places, but housing developers are forcing them to do it with one hand behind their backs.

“These companies often try to wriggle out of providing community facilities like schools or leave them till the last minute to try and extend their 20 per cent plus profit margins. Central government needs to shift the balance of power so that councils can insist on good quality, affordable homes and enough school buildings in time to meet demand.”

The demand is being driven by the 17,000 new homes being built as part of Warwick District Council’s local plan, which will shape the future of the area up to 2031. It is estimated for every 100 homes there will be five new pupils per year group in the district.

The number of secondary school places in Warwick district by 2024 are set to be short by 985 in Warwick and Leamington and by nearly 80 in Kenilworth.

Primary places in the district by 2022 are set to be short by around 170 in Warwick and Leamington but Kenilworth is expected to have around 100 spare spaces.

Southam, which falls in Stratford district, is set be short of just under 330 secondary places and 66 primary places.

Schools are already experiencing rising demand with reception classes expected to face ‘significant pressure’ from next year. ‘Rapid increases’ in applications for places in secondary schools are also expected.

Plans for a new secondary school on land off Oakley Wood Road leading to Bishops Tachbrook are in the pipeline to help meet secondary demand in Warwick and Leamington, together with the building of new primary schools and the expansion of others in the area.

But Warwickshire education spokesman Coun Colin Hayfield was confident the county was geared up to meet the growing demand for places in the coming years.

He said: “The council’s Sufficiency Strategy 2018-23 outlines Warwickshire’s strategic management of the expected growth in population due to new housing. This is undertaken with consideration of the local transport infrastructure, social care needs, access to leisure facilities as well as sufficient places at local schools.

“Growth is initially managed through the expansion and re-organisation of schools. Large housing developments however will generally be managed through the building of new schools. We liaise regularly with schools and the Department for Education in order to plan for this growth.”

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