In November 2015, GLA Demography produced the first pan-London school place demand projections. That publication provided the first consistent view of future demand for places in state-maintained schools across the capital. In the years since, the projections have proven a valuable resource in understanding emerging demand and in informing strategic decisions about future provision and funding of places in the capital.
In an update to that work we have now published the 2018 Pan-London Demand for School Places Projections incorporating a revised methodology and updated input data.
What do the projections say?
The 2018 demand projections project demand for places in primary and secondary state-maintained schools over the period 2017-2028. After a decade of increasing demand in primary schools the next decade will see increasing pressure on the secondary system – over the next five years every London borough will see growth in secondary demand. In total London will need to find places for, on average, an additional 4,800 children each year until 2028.
Over the last decade increasing birth rates resulted in significant growth in demand for primary school places placing increasing pressure on existing supply. Between 2012 and 2017 demand grew from 613 thousand to 689 thousand – a 12 per cent rise.
Births in London peaked in 2012 and since then have fallen back slightly. As a result, demand for primary places is expected to peak in 2019 before falling back. By 2028 London will require around 12 thousand less places than are currently needed. This constitutes a fall in demand over the projection period of around 1.7 per cent.
Demand for places in London’s secondary schools has begun to rise in recent years as large cohorts of children move from primary into secondary education. Demand is anticipated to rise significantly in the short-term with an additional 78 thousand secondary places required by 2024. Following the peak in 2024 demand will ease somewhat as the lower birth rates of recent years impact on secondary-age population.
The challenges of projecting & meeting demand
Projecting demand for school places is a particularly challenging task. At the primary level demand is closely tied to birth rates and sudden changes in patterns or breaks from historic trends require almost immediate assessment and response.
At the secondary level demand is complicated by high levels of cross-border movement – when a child moves across a ward or borough boundary to attend school. The London Schools Atlas (https://maps.london.gov.uk/schools/) highlights the extent of this movement showing net flows of children across ward boundaries. At secondary level 81 per cent of children attended a school outside their ward of residence in 2017.
These issues highlight the need for co-operation between the GLA, the London boroughs, government, and stakeholders. Hopefully the pan-London school place demand projections offer useful insight and add to the range of tools at the disposal of policy makers and the wider education sector.
If you would like to read the full report on the 2018 demand projections or download the data go to the GLA Demography pages on the London Datastore: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/pan-london-school-place-demand