Gloucestershire bucks the trend and avoids shortage of primary school places
SCHOOLS in Gloucestershire are bucking the trend of an expected shortage in the number of places available for primary pupils in England.
The Local Government Association says almost half of the school districts in England are predicted to have more primary pupils than places within two years.
The "unnecessary restrictions" on councils wanting to open schools could leave parents scrambling for places that do not exist by 2015, LGA chairman David Simmonds said.
Overall two-thirds of local authorities expect to be oversubscribed by the beginning of the 2016 academic year, the LGA said.
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But Gloucestershire County Council has preempted the expected shortage of places by cross-referencing birth rates with planned housing developments in order to plan ahead.
Cabinet member for children and young people and commissioning Paul McLain said: "In Gloucestershire we are ahead of the game, actively planning ahead to meet any future demand for primary school places.
"We're already talking with schools about future need for 2014 and 2015, and we've increased capacity this year in Cheltenham and Gloucester in direct response to higher demand.
"Forecasting is key. We match NHS birth rates and information from nurseries with parental preference to forecast demand, so we are well prepared to manage any future increases.
"We are determined to stay ahead of the game, so where new housing developments are being built we are working with planners and developers to ensure there are enough school places for families moving into the area too."
An example of the council's planning is Shurdington C of E Primary School, which has increased its reception class intake by 15 places to 30 for this September.
While the temporary expansions are planned to be for one year only, the places will need to remain in place for the duration of this reception intake's primary education, which is seven years.
The latest forecasts show this trend is likely to continue, so the council is proposing to make these extra places permanent.