More schools needed, say Wates

New figures show there is increasing pressure on school places which could prompt a fresh round of school construction projects.

School capacity figures released by the Department for Education show that in 2010-11 20.4% of English primary schools and 25.4% of state secondary schools were full or had more pupils than they were meant to take.

Lancashire expects to see a 14% rise in the number of primary school pupils to 100,000 by 2015-16 while Manchester predicts a 24% increase to 46,000.

Liverpool is facing a 9% rise but the situation is less dramatic in Cheshire East (3.5%), Cheshire West (6.7%) and Cumbria where the number of pupils is expected to stay the same at around 34,000.

There is less pressure on secondary schools in the period to 2017-18 with Lancashire predicting a 2% rise in pupil numbers and Liverpool expecting an 8% decline. But Manchester is also under pressure in this area with pupil numbers forces to rise by 5,000, or 21%, to 28,400.

Steve Beechey, head of education at school builder Wates, said: "Local authorities forecast a nationwide increase of almost half a million pupils by 2015-16. While that might seem like a long way off, it typically takes at least two years from the time a decision is made to build a school before it is ready to open as a school, so there is an acute need for new school building projects to get underway now to avoid a potentially critical shortfall of places in densely populated areas within the next few years.

"In a time of constrained public spending, this will require the government, local authorities and the private sector to bring forward creative means of financing and delivering new school places through better procurement, standardisation and more innovative funding models."

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