Education leaders in Lewisham are facing a shortfall in primary places due to the pupil population rise of more than 20 per cent and have had to build temporary classrooms.
Lewisham Council failed to get a penny of last year’s £140 million emergency London, funding as ELL reported last month, and had to find £4 million from other budgets to create 510 additional places for the start of the school year.
With primary places exceeding the London borough’s Pupil Admissions Limits, modular classrooms have been installed in nine Lewisham primary schools.
Ashmead Primary School has had a portable classroom built for its reception children. One class now has 15 children and the other has 17. After Christmas the school expects to have 30 pupils in each class. Headteacher David Collen told East London Lines:
“We found out about the problem in April, which was quite late but accommodating the children was essential to us.
“We spoke to parents and kept them informed about the situation and got on with the organisation of the modular classroom for reception.”
“They are fully insulated but we will find out about how they cope with winter season nearer the time.”
One Ashmead parent told ELL: “The school sent us a letter to let us know that they were going to build a temporary classroom and they’ve handled it well. I just hope the situation doesn’t get worse next year because then what will they do?”
It has only been two years since Ashmead built an entirely new school and the school still remains a one form entry school. Collen told ELL that the school expects to return to having one set of children in the class beginning in the next academic year.
Mayor Sir Steve Bullock warned: “The situation in Lewisham is very serious and will continue to be so until we get additional government funding to provide more primary places.
“We have opened 18 additional classes on time so that every child due to start reception this year has a place. This was only achieved through the hard work and commitment of Lewisham headteachers and governors.
“The birth rate in Lewisham is now around 4,800 a year and if 80 per cent of these children apply for a place in a Lewisham school, we will have 3,840 applications for 3,156 places each year. This is an unacceptable situation.
“The government needs to understand the urgency for more primary places and this has to be a priority for the Comprehensive Spending Review.