A Southport councillor is pressing Sefton Council to look carefully at whether the town might need new schools or classrooms, following news of a surge in the birth rate. The National Audit Office has identified 240,000 primary school places will be needed by 2014-15 across England. 400,000 school places may be needed by 2018.  The effect is not uniform across the country and some areas are experiencing a much higher birth rate than others with serious school place shortages.

Lib Dem Councillor Tony Dawson, who represents the central area of Southport and Shoreside Birkdale, has asked Council officers for figures to show if our present schools can cope, and also how parental choice of primary school is already being affected by the shortage of places locally. Most parents living in Dukes Ward have to travel some distance to put their children in primary schools already and the councillor feels that the Council needs to be considering looking at this area if there is thought to be a need for a new school.

He said:

“There are already serious problems in the town regarding parental choice for school places. We even had one family last year who abandoned the housing association home they had waited years to get and leaving town because they could not place their children in schools within reach. We also find parents whose children have had difficulties in one or other school in the town cannot find a place in other local schools which their parents can get them to. And that is BEFORE the birth rate increase.”

“We need a sensible and thoughtful approach to the primary school needs of Southport, not a hurried hotch potch created out of a crisis. That means we need to be looking at the numbers of local births this year and planning to ensure that there are the right number of places available in a few years time.”

Council Officers have informed Cllr Dawson that it is too early yet to say what the present picture is in Southport with parental choice of primary schools as appeals will not be finalised till April. But he has been promised the statistics on ‘effective parental choice’, as well as ’empty places’ and ‘predicted reception class numbers’ just as soon as the school appeals process is over.

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