Hundreds of pupils taught in crowded schools

Twelve schools are full or overcapacity.

Twelve schools are full or overcapacity. - Credit: © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Twelve of North Somerset’s schools are full or overcapacity.

The National Education Union (NEU) has accused the Government of ‘inadequate planning’ for the increase in pupil numbers.

Department for Education (DfE) data shows there were 10 primary schools and two secondary schools in North Somerset which were either at full capacity or overcrowded last year.

That leaves North Somerset’s primary schools overcapacity by 161 pupils and secondary schools overcapacity by 109 pupils – meaning even more children are learning in crowded classrooms.

However, four fewer schools were full or overcapacity in 2017-18 than in the previous academic year.

Andrew Morris, assistant general secretary of the NEU said this ‘is an unacceptable state of affairs’, adding: “Our children and young people only get one chance for an education.

“This is the result of the Government’s inadequate planning for the increase in pupil numbers and its insistence that local authorities should not be permitted to open new schools.

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“This lack of foresight, combined with the year-on-year funding squeeze, has resulted in the highest number of secondary school students in classes of more than 30 since 1982.

“Running schools in an incoherent fashion on a shoestring budget is not good enough.”

North Somerset Council is taking steps to alleviate the problem, with a primary school in Yatton due to open in 2020. Funding for a free school in Churchill is also being sought, while plans for a secondary school in the Mendip Spring area are also being discussed.

Across England, the increase in pupils by 2020-21 is estimated to be almost three times the number of additional planned school places, according to the DfE.

However, in North Somerset, there are more places planned by the local authority, 1,110, than additional pupils, 1,094. This data does not include free schools.

Education secretary, Damian Hinds, said: “This Government is undertaking the biggest expansion in school places in two generations – and the statistics show we are well on track to create one million places this decade. With standards rising in our schools this will mean that more families have the choice of a good school place.”