In an official forecast by the Department for Education, a further 750,000 school places will be needed by 2025 in England to keep up with the growing population.
For newly appointed Education Secretary, Justine Greening, creating new schools, extra classrooms and solving the teacher shortage will no doubt be high on her agenda.
Pupil numbers in schools will have risen for 16 consecutive years — an issue to which the Department for Education says it has committed £7bn to solving.
With another 10% of pupils entering the state school system between 2016 and 2025, we’re likely to see the pupil population rise from around 7.4 million to 8.1 million. Combine this with forecasts that the primary school system will grow from 4.5 million to around 4.68 million in just four years and there’s a clear challenge presenting itself in the education sector.
The growing teacher shortage
Having missed teacher training targets for the last four years, the Government needs to consider how it responds to this rapidly expanding pupil population. The budget commitment from the Department of Education to solve what calls a ‘top priority’, creating 600,000 more school places in the next five years, will be no use without the teachers to support it.
We’ll need to seriously address retention of teachers over the coming years in order for targets to be met and figures to be managed. Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, said, “The government will need to take teacher recruitment and retention more seriously” .