Schools across London are facing budget cuts and possible closures, as the pandemic and Brexit have accelerated the decline in the number of students who are already under pressure from a drop in the birth rate.
The combination of EU immigrants come back Families moving out of the capital that have reduced their appeal due to the coronavirus lockdown are disrupting the school funding model based on the number of students.
In the school year starting in September 2020, the number of pupils in public primary schools in England has fallen for the first time since 2010, down 0.3% year-on-year.
However, detailed London admissions data obtained by the Financial Times showed that before the January deadline, the number of applications for London primary schools in September this year fell by 6.7% year-on-year.
This is equivalent to a decrease of 6,546 children attending reception classes in the capital in September. According to the London Parliament, the umbrella body representing local authorities in the capital, this could result in a reduction of 34 million pounds in funding.
Data from two other British cities indicate that the decline in the number of students in the next academic year is not limited to London.
According to data from the Birmingham City Council, the annual decline in reception venues in September this year was 9.5%, while in Bristol, the figure was 6.8%.
The Birmingham City Council pointed out the gradual decline in the birth rate, but said there was “early evidence” that the decline in applications was “mainly due to the decrease in net immigration into the city”. Bristol declined to comment on the decline in applications.
A breakdown of capital data by the Pan-London Admissions Committee showed double-digit declines in certain areas. Applications in all 32 boroughs have declined, with the exception of the City of London being the smallest local authority to date.
The London Parliament said in a statement that it had expected that the lower birth rate would begin to affect the number of students, but it did not foresee a sharp drop next year.
It blames EU citizens for the decline in applications come back Britain returned home after Brexit. It also said the continuous coronavirus lockdown and the government’s “double blow” Stamp duty holiday Cause the family to move out of the capital.
“Although we don’t know how big the recent drop is, we know it is real to some extent,” the London Parliament said. “All of this will have an impact on school funding… If the school cannot fill the classrooms, then they need to consider reducing staff and other costs.”
The Haringey district of North London was the worst affected, with applications falling by 14.1% year-on-year, followed by Enfield with a 13.5% drop, and Hammersmith and Fulham with a 10.2% drop.
Most parliaments contacted by the Financial Times attribute the decline in part to the decline in the birth rate: Camden, for example, has fallen by 20% since 2012.
Haringey also pointed out that “due to the Covid pandemic, families with children are clearly migrating from London”. Hammersmith declined to comment further, and Enfield did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The decline in the number of students has put some schools in unsustainable financial conditions. Negotiations are ongoing on the future of St Mary Magdalen Elementary School in Lewisham, while Carlton Elementary School in Camden and Shapla and St Matthias Elementary School in Tower Hamlets will be closed this year.
Lewisham said: “Due to the reduced budget, vacant school places will immediately cost the school.”
With the birth rate falling, Camden City Council accused London of high cost of living and said it was cooperating with the school to deal with “significant funding challenges.”
Tahamlet said there are “multiple factors” that affect the numbers. “As a responsible local authority, we regularly review local school places in response to demographic changes,” it said.
Even in the less affected administrative regions, the decline in the number of new students will affect the budget. Ed David, a cabinet member of the Lambeth Children and Youth Council, said that applications for primary school places in the area have fallen by 3.6% from last year. He said that only about 86% of places were filled in September.
This will mean less funding, which may force the principal to cut costs and staff including teaching assistants and cleaners. He said: “The cost of running 23 classes is the same as the cost of running 30 classes.”
The London Parliament stated that delayed applications before the start of the new school year may offset some of the decline, although most of the London Parliament contacted by the Financial Times stated that the number has not changed. But the umbrella agency warned that the long-term trend of declining numbers will mean that many administrative regions are still facing funding constraints.
The committee said that in the case of Hackney, due to delays in applications, the January data reported a 12.6% year-on-year decline in primary school degree applications and has shrunk to only 1.5%.
However, according to the city council document, in the previous school year, 14.4% of the reception places in the district were vacant, and the reception classes in the two regions were less than 75%.
The documents show that the committee has promised to “minimize” school closures and class consolidation during the pandemic, but warned that the extra places mean it is “prepared to consider and take these measures in the near future.”
Hackney Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble said that school funding has been hit as the number of students dropped to 2010 levels and government spending cuts.
“Since 2010, the government funding per student has actually been cut by 9%, which has exacerbated the impact of the decline in the number of students on school budgets,” she said. “We are working closely with the school to meet this budget challenge.”
The government stated that it is working with local authorities to “support them in developing plans to ensure that the supply of school places matches demand.”