A new report by Scape Group, The Secondary School Places Challenge, has revealed a growing need for secondary school places across the UK.
Using publicly available data from the Department of Education, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and Northern Ireland’s Department of Education, the report sought to analyse secondary pupil projection numbers to identify how many more schools and classrooms could be required across the UK to ensure we have enough school places available for the growing population of pupils.
Although growth in primary school pupil levels has begun to level off in England, the secondary school population is set to see a significant spike — 435,000 new places will be needed by 2021. This is a problem across the UK: over this period, an additional 13,337 new classrooms will be needed in England — the equivalent of 381 new schools across nine regions to accommodate the additional pupils. Scotland will see a 6% increasing in secondary school pupils, needing 527 more classrooms, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland would each need over 300 new classrooms for their secondary schools.
To address the issue, the report offers some key recommendations, which include:
• To maximise the value and efficiency of secondary school sites, commissioning authorities should seek opportunities to share new facilities, such as a local leisure centre, community space or council building, with primary schools or the wider community.
• Creative design solutions, such as building schools of up to three or four storeys to deliver maximum capacity, particularly on smaller sites, without compromising on pupils’ learning experience.
• Adoption of offsite construction as the main method of construction for all school buildings to allow them to be built at a faster rate compared to traditional methods.
• Greater collaboration between councils and developers to ensure schools are built first in major urban extensions and developments.
Scape Group Chief Executive Mark Robinson commented: “Secondary school pupil numbers are set to rise significantly and attention urgently needs to be paid to the quality and availability of secondary school classrooms across the United Kingdom.
“We must ensure there is a joined-up approach that embraces modern construction methods and high-quality design, which can be delivered quickly and cost-effectively.”