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Government to invest '£12.5 million over next decade'

Schools Minister David Laws said the Coalition Government "is tackling this problem" for a lack of school places for primary school children.

Speaking to Daybreak he said: "It ought to have been obvious since 2004 when we started to see a huge increase in the birth rate in this country, that we need more primary school places.

Unfortunately the last Government for the period 2004 to 2010 took out over 200,000 places from the primary school system in this country."

He added: "This coalition government is now putting those places back in.

"By this September we'll have created almost 200,000 places in the primary school system and we're actually putting in £12.5 million over this decade to invest in new school places to provide up to half a million places in the country."

Lack of planning for school places is 'frustrating'

Russell Hobby from the National Association of Head Teachers Credit: Daybreak

Russell Hobby from the National Association of Head Teachers said the "lack of planning is frustrating" when it comes to school places.

Speaking to Daybreak he said: "You should be able to predict this, when more children are born, four years later you need more school places."

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Head teacher: We have to stagger playtimes for pupils

Bob Garton, head teacher at a school in Barking said teachers are "under pressure because of the number of pupils and the mobility in the school".

Speaking to Daybreak's Nick Dixon he said: "We're coping well but it is a difficult situation, we have to stagger our playtimes in the morning, and also at lunch time the children have to come in at different times so they can fit in the hall and the playgrounds."

He said the only way the Government can solve the problem of overcrowding in schools is to give more money to the local authorities to build new school buildings.

Government: Labour ignored rising birth rates

Schools Minister David Laws said he agrees with the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC)'s vies on ensuring there are enough school places for children.

"Margaret Hodge is right", he added, "but she has failed to pin the blame where it belongs - at the door of the last government of which she was a member." He said:

Her report correctly states that the department 'failed to adequately plan' for the rising population, but does not explain that the responsibility for this failure lies with the previous schools secretary, Ed Balls, who ignored the rising birth rates reported by the ONS.

The coalition is clearing up the mess left by Ed Balls and Labour when they were in government.

Government has 'failed to identify demand for places'

Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chair Margaret Hodge said the Department for Education has "failed to identify in time the rising demand for school places." She added:

Growth in demand is concentrated in particular areas of the country. Without enough resources to provide new places, some authorities are forced to sacrifice facilities like music rooms or expand classes beyond the statutory 30 children per class.

The inability of local authorities to require academies and free schools to expand further constrains them.

The department does not understand the costs for local authorities in delivering places or the relative value for money of different approaches around the country.

More than a third of school places needed in London

A study by the National Audit Office (NAO) in March warned that by September 2014, an estimated extra 256,000 primary and secondary school places will be needed.

More than a third will be needed in London alone, with 240,000 required in primary schools.

An extra 256,000 primary and secondary school places will be needed by September 2014 Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

The Department for Education (DfE) expects that 190,000 extra places will have been created by September, as it will spend £5 billion by 2015.

A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) suggests that there has been "little oversight" of the impact decisions on how to create new places would have on children's education.

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MPs raise concern over lack of school places

MPs have warned that under-performing schools could be forced to expand to deal with a chronic shortage of places for children.

Local councils may have to make decisions that affect the quality of pupils' education in the rush to provide enough school places, a new report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said.

Under-performing schools could be forced to expand, report warns Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Buildings such as libraries or music rooms could be turned into classrooms to meet the demand in areas facing a squeeze on places, it added.

The committee is the latest group to raise concerns about a lack of school places.

NAO head: 'Real challenge' for school places

National Audit Office head Amyas Morse said:

The Department has ambitious objectives to provide school places, and to enable parents to have some choice of school for their children.

However, despite increases in places and funding over the last two years, it faces a real challenge, with 256,000 places still required by 2014/15. Furthermore, there are indications of strain on school places.

The Department needs a better understanding of costs to improve value for money, as well as a better understanding of the impact its funding contribution is having on the ground.

Around 256,000 extra school places needed by 2014

The National Audit Office report suggests that the heightened demand for primary school places is partly down to a rising birth rate - the rise in the number of children born in England between 2001 and 2011 was the biggest 10-year increase since the 1950s.

Between 2006/07 and 2011/12, the number of four-year-olds starting reception classes rose by 16%, it says.

It warns that by September 2014, an estimated extra 256,000 primary and secondary school places will be needed to meet the demand. Of these, 240,000 are required in primary schools, with more than a third (37%) needed in London alone.

These extra places are still needed despite a net increase of almost 81,500 places which were created between 2010 and May 2012, and the DfE increasing the amount of funding it gives to local councils to provide spaces.

How many places will be required in the future is uncertain, the NAO says, but it is expected that more will be needed beyond next year.

Real strain on school places, spending watchdog warns

Between 2006/07 and 2011/12, the number of four-year-olds starting reception classes rose by 16%. Credit: PA

Tens of thousands of extra school places will be needed by next year amid a continuing surge in demand, the spending watchdog warned today.

Despite more than 80,000 extra primary spaces being created in the last two years, there are still signs of a real strain on school places, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

It says that the Government is pumping billions of pounds into establishing more places, but suggests that the Department for Education (DfE) still needs a better understanding of the costs, and the impact its funding is having in local areas.