London’s exodus leaves schools short of students

Schools across London face budget cuts and potential closures as the pandemic and Brexit accelerate the decline in student numbers who have already been under pressure from declining birth rates.

A mixture of immigrants from the European Union back To their home countries and families leaving the capital, which has become less attractive due to coronavirus lockdowns, undermine the school financing model, which relies on student numbers.

The number of students in state-funded primary schools in England fell in the school year that began in September 2020 for the first time since 2010, down 0.3 per cent year-on-year.

But detailed admission data obtained by the Financial Times in London suggests that the capital is experiencing steeper declines with a 6.7 percent annual drop in primary school applications in September by the January deadline across the city.

This equates to 6,546 fewer children than enrolled in reception classes in the capital in September, leading to a potential funding cut of £ 34 million according to London Councils, the umbrella body that represents local authorities in the capital.

The number of students in state-funded primary schools in England has decreased in the school year that began in September 2020 for the first time since 2010 © Dominic Lipinski / PA

Data from two other English cities indicate that the decline in student numbers for the upcoming school year is not limited to London.

Figures from Birmingham City Council show a 9.5 per cent annual decline for reception venues in September, while the figure in Bristol was 6.8 percent.

The Birmingham Council indicated a gradual decline in the birth rate, but said there was “early evidence” that the decline in applications “was mainly due to a decrease in net immigration to the city.” Bristol declined to comment on the drop in requests.

A breakdown of metropolitan data from the All-London Admissions Board showed a doubly low in some areas. All 32 boroughs recorded a decrease in the number of requests, with the City of London being by far the smallest local authority, except.

London Councils said in a statement that it expected low birth rates to start affecting student numbers, but did not expect a sharp decline in the coming year.

He blamed the decrease in the number of applications on EU citizens back Home after Brexit. She also said the “double whammy” of successive coronavirus and government shutdowns Holiday duty stamp It led to families leaving the capital.

The London Councils said: “Although we do not know the magnitude of the recent decline, we know that it is real to some extent.” “All of this has an effect in terms of funding the schools… If the school is not able to fill a semester, then they will need to consider reducing the number of staff and other costs.”

The North London area of ​​Haringey was the hardest hit, with orders falling 14.1 percent year-on-year, followed by Enfield at 13.5 percent and down 10.2 percent in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Most boards contacted by the Financial Times blamed in part on the low birth rates: for example, Camden has seen a 20 percent decline since 2012.

Haringey also noted “a clear exodus from London of families with children as a result of the Covid pandemic.” Hammersmith declined to comment further and Enfield did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Carleton Elementary School in Camden is due to close © Anna Gordon / FT

The decline in student numbers has left some schools in an unsustainable financial position. Consultations are underway on the future of St Mary Magdalene Elementary School in Lewisham, while Carleton Elementary School in Camden and Chaplela and St Matthias Primary School in Tower Hamlets are slated to close this year.

“Unpacked school spaces have an immediate cost to schools by cutting their budgets,” Lewisham said.

Besides the baby boomers, Camden Council blamed London’s rising cost of living and said it is working with schools to deal with “big funding challenges”.

Tower Hamlets said there are “multiple factors” that influence the numbers. “As a responsible local authority, we conduct regular reviews of school spaces locally in response to population change,” she said.

Even in the least affected neighborhoods, fewer new students will affect budgets. Ed Davey, Cabinet Member for Children and Youth in Lambeth, where primary school applications were down 3.6 percent from a year ago, said only about 86 percent of places were filled in September.

This means a drop in funding that could force school principals to cut costs and personnel including teaching assistants and cleaners. “Running a 23-class chapter costs the same as running a 30-class classroom,” he said.

London councils said late applications could offset some of the falls before the start of the new school year, although most councils in London contacted by the Financial Times said the numbers had not changed. But the umbrella body cautioned that the longer-term trend of lower numbers could mean that many neighborhoods still face funding pressures.

In Hackney, for example, the 12.6 percent year-on-year drop in primary school applications reported in the January data fell to just 1.5 percent as a result of late applications, the council said.

But in the last academic year, 14.4 percent of reception places in the town were vacant and in two districts reception classes were less than 75 percent, according to council documents.

The documents show that the council has pledged to “reduce” school closures and integrate classes during the pandemic, but warned that the surplus of places means that it is “prepared to consider these measures and take them in the near future.”

Hackney’s Deputy Mayor Antoinette Bramble © Isabel Infantes / Empics / PA

Hackney’s deputy mayor, Antoinette Bramble, said school funding has been hit by the drop in student numbers to 2010 levels and government cuts.

“The impact of declining student lists on school budgets has been doubled by a 9 percent reduction in real government funding for each student since 2010,” she said. “We are working closely with schools to address this budgetary challenge.”

The government said it is working with local authorities “to support them in their planning to ensure that the supply of school accommodations complies with this demand.”

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