Empty spaces in primary schools predicted in next three years

There are expected to be 2,095 empty primary school places in North Somerset by 2022.

There are expected to be 2,095 empty primary school places in North Somerset by 2022. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hundreds of school places are set to be unfilled in North Somerset within three years due to a drop in birth rates.

According to North Somerset Council’s pupil projections, there will be 2,095 empty spaces in classrooms by 2022.

To prepare for the decline, St Martin’s Primary School, in Worle, will reduce its reception intake from 90 to 60 pupils in September 2021.

St Andrew’s Primary School in Congresbury will also take 30 pupils instead of 45.

Secondary schools are facing a different predicament with a predicted shortfall of 560 spaces by 2024.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “Locally we are seeing a lowering in demand for new school places generally.

“This is to be managed alongside the increases in need for secondary-aged places as the higher primary demand transitions into key stage four and an overall need for new school and pre-school places in areas of residential growth.”

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The local authority is required to produce pupil forecasting statistics to identify needs for future provision.

A number of factors are taken into consideration including birth rates, school census information and new housing completions and school performance.

The past 20 years has seen significant growth in North Somerset and further large scale development is planned, as a result of the Local Plan.

North Somerset Council has prepared for influx of new pupils with primary schools at Locking Parklands and Yatton due to open by September 2020.

More: Plans for £4.9million village primary to go on display.

Funding for a free school in Churchill is also being sought, while plans for secondary schools at Weston Village and the Mendip Spring area are also being discussed.

A council spokesman added: “There is a need to create new schools in areas of residential growth alongside a decrease in the capacity and intakes of schools in areas that have stabilised or are decreasing in new pupil-aged populations.”

More: Work begins on £9million Locking Parklands school.

Nationally, the nursery and primary school population has been rising since 2009 – reaching 4.64 million in 2018.

However, the national pupil projections produced in 2018 are forecasting a lower increase in the pupil population over the next nine years due to a drop in birth rates.