Pressure for places will grow as councils predict half a million more pupils
More than 20 per cent of English schools are full or over capacity, according to new government figures.
The department for education statistics show 20.4 per cent of primary schools and 25.4 per cent of state secondary schools were full or had more pupils than they were meant to take in 2010/11.
The situation will worsen as pupil numbers are predicted to rise by almost half a million, which will increase pressure for new school facilities. Local authorities told the government that the number of primary school pupils will increase by 454,800 nationally between 2010/11 and 2015/16 and the number of state secondary pupils will rise by 44,210 by 2017/18.
Hampshire had the most primary schools full or over capacity with 101, followed by Surrey, Kent, Devon, Derbyshire and Birmingham.
Kent and Birmingham had the largest number of state secondary schools with too many pupils at 38, followed by Surrey, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
Hertfordshire predicted the biggest growth in England in the number of secondary school pupils by 2017/8 with a 7,123 increase. It was followed by Milton Keynes, Bradford, Manchester and Brent.
Lancashire said it would see the largest increase in the number of primary school children with a rise of 13,811 by 2015/6. It was followed by Birmingham, Leeds Hertfordshire and Hampshire.
Kent expected to have the largest number of both primary and state secondary pupils by 116,356 primary school children by 2015/6 and 98,762 at secondary school pupils by 2017/8. Essex, Hertfordshire, Birmingham and Lancashire were in the six areas with the largest number of primary and secondary pupils.
The figures showed schools elsewhere in the country had spare places. 79.6 per cent of primary schools and 74.6 per cent of state secondaries had unfilled places in 2010/11. Dorset, Poole and the Isles of Scilly will see the number of primary school pupils drop by 2015/6 while the numbers of secondary age pupils will drop in 64 local authority areas by 2017/8.
Steve Beechey, head of education at contractor Wates, said there should be a target for the maximum number of children per class. He 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.” He added that “better procurement, standardisation and more innovative funding models” would be needed to build new schools at a time of public spending constraints.