How to: find out about pupil place shortages in local schools

In some places of the UK primary school pupils are expected to rise by up to a fifth in the next few years, with new funding announced this week to help local authorities cope with the rise.

But if you want to find out more about the demands on school places in your own area, how do you go about it?

One key phrase to search for is “Pupil place plan” – this is the jargon used to refer to how local councils plan for changing demands on school places. Here, for example, is the Pupil Place Plan for 2013-17 for Thurrock (PDF), which describes the changing local birthrate and how they expect provision in primary schools and early years education to change.

Another phrase is “School place planning“. Here’s one example of a report from Swindon produced for theĀ Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee – the part of the council which scrutinises how education is delivered.

Note that free schools and academies are not under local authority control – they are overseen by the Department for Education.

Data on school capacity is published by the Department for Education under Statistics: school capacity.

The DfE also publishes details on how school capacity is measured here.

Some background on the anticipated shortage in primary school places is available on FullFact, which fact-checks media reports.

If you know of any other sources of information on school places, please let us know.

About Paul Bradshaw

Founder of Help Me Investigate. I'm a visiting professor at City University London's School of Journalism, and run an MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University. I publish the Online Journalism Blog, and am the co-author of the Online Journalism Handbook and Magazine Editing (3rd edition). I have a particular interest in Freedom of Information and data journalism.
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