Number of primary school places could be cut in Islington due to falling school rolls

Number of primary school places could be cut in Islington due to falling school rolls
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The number of primary school places could be cut in Islington because of falling school rolls.

Town hall bosses are likely to agree to consult primary schools to reduce the number of places by the equivalent of three and a half entry forms, or 105 places.

This is due to a trend in falling demand as fewer children are born, the impact of COVID and drops in migration following Brexit and the number of families movng out of London.

Schools across the capital are feeling the pinch and almost one in five reception places are unfilled at 46 primary schools in Islington.

There has been a reduction of more than 300 pupils across all year groups last year – with 2,800 surplus places – 18% of the total, according to a town hall report.

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Six primaries have more than 30 percent unfilled places.

There was also a surplus of 14 percent, or 1,000 places in secondary year
groups in January 2021, with Year 7 hardest hit.

It comes at a time when school balances have dropped from £11.7m in 2018/19 to £8.3m and are likely to fall ”significantly”. Ten schools are already in deficit and the council warned it is likely to increase over the next financial year.

The decline is blamed on the fall in the number of pupils meaning a loss of £5,430 per empty seat at primary schools and a loss of £8,040 per student in secondary schools.

Other costs include the increase in the number of children with special educational needs, which went up 10 percent last year and the impact of inflation.

The council said it would only close schools “as a last resort” and only after consultation.

Instead it plans to look at “formal and informal collaborations” and agree with schools on how to “manage” the surplus places.

It also plans to promote schools actively, including a secondary schools fair.

The council executive of senior politicians is likely to approve consulting to removing the 105 surplus places.

In her report councillor Michelline Safi Ngongo, the politician with responsibility for children, young people and families said: “Reducing the number of school places in a planned way will support schools more widely
to be financially sustainable; preserve and offer a broad and balanced curriculum to their pupils.”

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