New figures, released by Labour today (Thurs), show the scale of the crisis facing parents of primary-age pupils on the day when they find out which school their children will go to.
Tristram Hunt, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, said the Tories' schools plan was 'failing' as he revealed new figures obtained from freedom of information requests:
- The number of young children crammed in large classes of over 30 pupils has soared past 100,000 – the highest it’s been for 15 years, as primary schools struggle to offer a place to every child.
- Instead of allocating money where it’s needed, the Tories have spent millions setting up Free Schools where there is no shortage of school places, while class sizes soar elsewhere. New figures reveal that 96 per cent of areas that desperately need more primary places for this September do not have a primary Free School.
- Whilst the Tories have spent millions opening Free Schools in areas where there is no shortage of school places, Derby is forecasting that there will be 1327 more primary pupils than places by September 2018, if sufficient school places are not provided. In Leicester the forecast is that there will be 3023 more primary pupils than places by September 2018, 2643 in Nottingham City and 2148 in Northamptonshire.
The Tories have created this crisis in primary school places by failing to allocate money where it’s needed, choosing instead to pursue their under-performing Free Schools programme, setting up schools where there is no shortage of places and making the wrong choices. As a result, the country now has the highest number of children in over-full classes for 15 years.
Labour has a better plan – we will end the wasteful and poorly performing Free Schools programme, and switch resources to where they are needed, allowing us to cap class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds at 30 pupils or under.
Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt, said:
“The crisis in school places is yet more evidence that the Tory plan is failing working families. It is thanks to David Cameron and his decision to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money on a few Free Schools in areas where there are no shortages of places that the number of young children in large classes has more than tripled since 2010 and parents are finding it harder to get a place for their child at a local school.
“Labour has a better plan. Like parents, Labour understands that young children do best in small classes. We will cap class sizes for five, six and seven-years-olds at 30 and prioritise spending for new places in areas which need them - paid for by ending the Tories’ flawed Free Schools programme. We will put a qualified teacher in every classroom, improve classroom discipline and raise standards for all children.”