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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

New estimates of projected demand for school places in London

Understanding the relationship between population change and demand for school places is crucial if public authorities are to plan effectively for future place provision. Over the last ten years London has experienced exceptionally high birth rates – annual births in the capital rose by almost 30,000 (28 per cent) between 2001/2 and 2011/12. Initially this put pressure on the primary school system and now that increased population is feeding through into the secondary sector.

The way that population change translates into demand for school places is complex. For example, around 40 per cent of children in London attend a school outside their home ward and a further 11,500 children travel into London from outside the GLA boundary for school. In addition, independent school take-up, which is around 13 per cent for London as a whole, varies significantly by location and age.

These factors mean that population projections alone are not always useful in identifying where demand for school places will be greatest. And yet, despite the complexities, there is a clear need to understand and plan for changes in the dimension and distribution of demand. The 2013 London Assembly Education Panel’s London Learners, London Lives report and the 2012 Mayor’s Education Inquiry both included recommendations that the GLA should work towards producing pan-London projections of demand for places to help support strategic planning work.

To meet this need the GLA Intelligence Unit Demography Team have developed a model which provides ward-level projections of future demand at both primary and secondary level. It is hoped that planners and stakeholders can use this information to gain on overview of where provision might be needed and to develop London-wide strategies for addressing the challenges of meeting demand.

The model uses GLA population projections in conjunction with data from the Department for Education to produce ward-level projections of demand over the next decade. Based on this analysis we project that demand for state school places will reach 737,000 primary and 498,000 secondary places by 2025. This constitutes a rise of 60,000 places in the primary sector (8.8 per cent) and 105,000 places in the secondary sector (26.5 per cent) over levels in January 2015.

The map below shows where growth in demand for secondary places is projected to be greatest. Areas with significant development, such as the Thames Gateway (in the north of Greenwich and the south of Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking & Dagenham), show the greatest projected demand. Meeting this demand will be a challenge for all of these boroughs and there is a clear advantage to developing a strategic approach.

Change in demand for secondary school places 2015-2025 by ward

Growth to 2025 - secondary3

It is hoped that these projections will inform decisions about the future provision and funding of places across the capital. However, the figures in this model in no way replace or supersede those provided by London Boroughs to the Department for Education. The advantage of this model is that it provides a strategic-level indication of where additional demand may arise in future using a consistent method of estimation across the capital in order to provide a pan-London picture.

A report on the methodology and first results is available on the London Datastore along with ward and borough-level projection outputs. In addition, for the first time, we are publishing the model code, written in R (a programming language for statistical computing), for users to view. We hope that this will help those who are interested to better understand the model and results.

View Full Report
View Model Code