Brent Council needs �52million to deal with shortage of school places

Surge in birth rates and increase in families moving to the borough has hit primary schools

Brent Council has to find a staggering �52million to deal with the borough’s shortage of primary school places.

Last month the Times exclusively revealed there could be a shortfall of up to 700 places over the next three years.

It is also predicted that 70 four-year-olds and 102 five-year-old children will not have a school place when the new academic term starts next month.

During crunch talks last week, officers drew up plans to deal with the crisis.

They recommend the council spends �21million of its own money next year to create extra places. It will then ask the government for the remaining �31million.

Cllr George Crane, lead member for regeneration and major projects, said: “Given the increasing scale of the shortfall, the physical constraints of many existing school sites and a lack of any confirmed government funding, the council and schools are faced with a real challenge.”

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Since 2001, births in Brent have increased by 31 per cent. This, coupled with more people settling in the borough, is at the root of the school places crisis.

The council plans to campaign for funding from central government over the next five to 10 years, review its entire education portfolio and consider new models for schools.

It also wants to carry on expanding schools and creating larger classes.

The Department for Education allocated �500million in July, which will be used to create more school places in the areas of greatest need.

However, there is no guarantee money will be given to Brent.

The council has already spent �16.5million creating 310 reception places for four-year-olds by expanding Newfield, Brentfield and Park Lane primaries and controversially turning Preston Manor High into an all-through school.

Eight schools now have temporary, larger classes.

Martin Francis, a former headteacher and chairman of governors at two Brent primary schools, said: “I have long pressed for a review of provision in the long term but hope that the consideration of new models will not rule out community primary schools with two forms of entry. These provide an ideal environment for young children, enable staff to know all of the children by name and are popular with parents who find smaller schools more friendly.”

n Have you failed to find a school place for your four-year-old? If so call the newsdesk on 020 7433 6241 or email