Pressure on London school places

You may or may not have studied the census data for your borough, but if you are intending to apply for a school place (state or private) in the coming years, I would recommend you have a look! As soon as the census data 2011 was published for my borough, I made sure to put my daughter’s name down at a few non-selective private schools where people at the time told me “you can always get a place” and sure enough, these schools are now oversubscribed over a year in advance. I am not surprised. The census data 2011 will show you the following (compared to the previous census in 2011):

  • The usually resident population of London on Census Day 2011 (27 March) was 8.17 million. This compares to 7.17 million at Census 2001, an increase of 1,002,000 or 14 per cent over the ten year period. An increase of ONE MILLION in ten years. Not bad! You can imagine how many new primary schools were built during the same time: probably not enough!
  • The largest local authority percentage increase between 2001 and 2011 was in London. Tower Hamlets grew by nearly 30 per cent. Other London local authorities that had high growth include Newham (26 per cent), Hackney and Westminster (both at 21 per cent).
  • There were 596,000 preschool children (0 – 4) in London in 2011, 7.2 per cent of the population, up from 478,000 in 2001 (6.7 per cent). An additional 118,000 children between 0 – 4 translates to about 20 – 30,000 additional applicants for school places per year group.

But the increased pressure on school places is not limited to primary schools. Between the 2001 and 2011 census, the capital’s school-age population grew by 107,000 – a growth rate of 8.2%, compared with 0.2% nationally. London’s most sought after secondary schools have been inundated with applications and school places can be more than 10 times oversubscribed: Hammersmith’s West London Free School received 1,124 applications for 120 places this year. The Harris City Academy in Crystal Palace – part of the Harris Federation chain – is said to have received more than 11 applications for each of its 180 places in year seven. Some 1,863 pupils sat the entrance exam to get into the selective Tiffin School, Kingston upon Thames, for just 160 places.

Source: London census 2011.

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