Labour: Tower Hamlets’ population rises will lead to school shortages

Tower Hamlets will be faced with “serious shortfalls” in the availability of school places in the next 10 years, the council’s opposition Labour group claims.

It argues that the continued rise in the borough’s population expected over the next decade, coupled with inadequate increases in provision of school places mean that as many as 1,300 primary and secondary school children could be left without a place by 2022.

Labour’s spokesman for childrens’ services, Cllr Bill Turner, said: “Across the borough many pupils will be nervous about starting back at school but for hundreds of parents the worry about getting their children into school next year has already started.

“Tower Hamlets is already at breaking point trying to place its students and we face even more serious shortfalls in the future as a result of Government cuts”, he added.

Labour estimates that the shortfall in places will begin to be felt in 2015/16, when it estimates there will be 240 pupils left without a school place in the borough. This figure will increase to more than 1,300 by 2021/22, it claims.

Cllr Turner continued: “The Mayor must take action to ensure every child has a good local school to attend. What we need is a real plan for the future which identifies sites for expansion and secures all the school places we need for the future.”

However, the council hit back over the claims, and claimed it remained committed to ensuring education was accessible to all in the borough.

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Head of Media Kelly Powell said: “The council has a programme of ensuring that there will be school places for all children who apply for a place. This year 86 per cent of Tower Hamlets families secured a place at their first preference primary school - the highest percentage of any London borough.

“Over �300 million has been invested into our secondary schools and on-going �50 million is committed to increasing primary school places.”