• In 2019 80.9% of applicants for a secondary school place received an offer of their first preference school. 93.0% received an offer of one of their top three preferences. This is the lowest percentage in a decade.
• At primary level, 90.6% of applicants received an offer of their first choice school, and 97.5% received an offer of one of their top three preferences.
• In 2019 604,500 applications for a secondary school place were received, an increase of 3.7% on 2018 (which itself saw a 3.6% increase on 2017 application numbers), as rising births since 2002 continue to move into secondary level.
• Applications for a primary school place for 2019 were virtually unchanged from the number in 2018 with 609,000 being received (up 0.1% on 2018).
Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, comments: “As with many critical issues desperately in need of political attention, education has dropped down the agenda as government bodies focus on Brexit and our future position with the rest of the world.
“This year not only were the lowest percentage of pupils offered a place at their first preference secondary school in a decade, the percentage offered a place at any of their preference schools also fell. This comes as the number of pupils applying reaches the highest number recorded.
“England faces a significant challenge as the school-age population is set to increase over the next two years and as children progress from primary to secondary education we now need to focus on building new secondary schools. There will be 313,164 additional secondary school pupils looking for places in the next two years – an increase of over 9%.
“While the Brexit fallout has created a vast amount of uncertainty, knowing your child will be able to get a preferred local primary or secondary school place should be a constant.
“We must collectively focus on delivering a strategy and solutions which not only provide high-quality, modern spaces for teaching and learning but also offer our colleagues in local authorities cost certainty, value for money and timely delivery. So there are more high-quality learning spaces for parents to choose from.
“Technologies such as offsite construction will play an essential part in that. Modern Methods of Construction not only allow quick construction but can also cost local authorities significantly less. Until the government takes more pragmatic action, they cannot claim to be safeguarding the futures of the UK’s young people.”
Scape’s The School Places Challenge 2019 report found:
• There will be 385,031 more school-age pupils in England by 2021/22, which equates to 12,835 additional primary and secondary school classrooms, the equivalent of 640 new schools.
• Although all regions will experience an increase in pupil growth above 3 per cent over the next two years, London, the South East and the South West can all expect to see the largest increases.
• Birmingham City Council is faced with the most substantial projected increase, with Manchester City Council coming in a close second.
• Both cities can expect more than 12,000 extra secondary school pupils by 2021/22. Between them, they will need to build the equivalent of 53 new schools by 2021/22.
View the full report here: www.scapegroup.co.uk/research/the-school-places-challenge-2019
About Scape Group
Scape Group is a public-sector organisation, dedicated to creating ongoing efficiency and social value via the built environment. Scape and its subsidiaries offer fully managed frameworks, property services, innovative design solutions, community investment opportunities and joint ventures.
By bringing together the strongest teams from the public and private sectors, Scape’s rapidly deployed, highly measurable and collaborative approach delivers value for money and quality buildings whilst stimulating local economic growth and community enrichment. Scape operates with a buying capacity of around £13bn and has helped to deliver over 2,400 public sector projects with more than 1,800 currently in progress. In 2018, Scape Group was named the ‘Best Client to Work With’ across the public and private sector, at the annual Construction Enquirer Awards for the third consecutive year. For more information visit: www.scapegroup.co.uk