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Demand for primary school places in Kent

By Paul Francis

County education chiefs say they expect to see a significant increase in the demand for primary school places in Kent - but not for two years.

It comes as parents found out today whether they had secured a place at one of their chosen primary schools for their children.

Kent County Council said a record number of parents had got their first choice of school for their children but predicted that there would be rising demand in years to come.

School classroom, stock picture

Cllr Roger Gough, KCC education cabinet member, said: “The last couple of years have been relatively quiet in the sense that the numbers coming into reception have been quite stable and down a little bit on a couple of years ago.

"However they are up about 2,500 on 10 years ago.

“Working with schools we have to ensure there are enough places there.

"We think the next year or so will be relatively quiet in terms of the pressure for expansion.

“Once we get past 2020 our expectation is that once with housing growth we will see significant population growth and increasing demand for places particularly at primary level.”

Cllr Gough said that new schools may be required in new areas.

“We will work with developers to ensure we get contributions for new schools," he said.

"There is always a mixture of funding sources for new schools such as government grants and we will make sure adequate resources are there for what is needed.”

We reported last November how Kent County Council predicted it could be short of £149m to meet the growing demand for school places over the next four years.

In the latest version of its school commissioning plan, the council estimated Kent will need the equivalent of 70 new primary classes along with 84 additional secondary classes over the period - the latter representing the equivalent of 12 new secondary schools.

Education chiefs say they are facing an “insoluble dilemma” over the funding they need now and beyond 2022, and have warned the figure “grows significantly”.

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