The Local Government Association (LGA) has recently reiterated its warning that there is a potential shortage of secondary school places “looming” in England, as an increased population moves up from the primary sector. The LGA claims that 12 councils will be over capacity by 2018, rising to nearly half of all councils over the next five-year period. In aggregate, secondary school places will be almost 8,000 short by September 2018, rising to a 125,000 shortfall by 2022.
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “As the LGA has previously warned, the school places squeeze is now about to hit secondary schools. More and more families will face growing uncertainty when trying to secure their child’s secondary school without action.
“Councils have worked hard to help create almost 600,000 additional primary places since 2010. This is no small feat. However, as those children move on to secondary schools, the majority of which are now academies, securing new secondary places in the areas where they are needed is becoming increasingly difficult.”
Clearly, whilst the growth will not occur uniformly across regions, many secondary schools are going to need to accommodate a growing number of pupils and staff over the coming few years, and for many, the rise in registrations will be rapid and significant. However, with budgets under pressure and many schools already operating at maximum capacity there may well be a reluctance to build substantial extensions to the main school buildings which can be time consuming, expensive and hugely disruptive. Clearly, a time and cost-effective solution will be a priority.
This does not, however, need to mean an unsightly pre-fab, mobile structure craned into the most accessible, though not necessarily the most desirable, spot. A modular school building provider, such as TG Escapes, will be able to supply bespoke designed classroom space, on budget, on time and with minimal disruption to daily school life. Furthermore, this approach can provide schools with the benefit of a permanent, bright and inspiring building in an optimum location, for a cost only marginally higher than a temporary classroom.
While the modules are assembled at a central manufacturing facility, on site work such as foundation preparation and amenity connection can occur simultaneously. This results in both a shorter overall construction period and a marked reduction in labour and supervision costs. It also leads to significantly fewer people and less equipment on location, making the on-site process quicker, quieter and safer than a conventional build. Furthermore, modular units can be designed to complement the external aesthetics of existing buildings (where desirable) and to fit in with the natural surroundings in which they are to be located.
A Learning Escape eco-classroom can be designed to accommodate the full breadth of traditional curriculum subjects, and the modular approach allows for timely, quick and easy expansion as a school’s headcount rises. Furthermore, if pupil numbers begin to drop again in the late 2020s and beyond, our beautiful, stand-alone buildings can easily be converted to other uses, such as staffrooms, canteens or even community centres. And as our classrooms are designed to last 50 years, they can be reconverted back as the current mini baby boomers begin to have families of their own.