School places sufficiency survey
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This release provides transparency data from the voluntary one-off survey on school places, sent to local authorities in England, in September 2020. The survey sought to collect information on significant changes to school capacity between academic year 2018/19 and 2019/20, as well as planned places to be added by local authorities in future.
145 out of 151 local authorities (96%) responded to the survey before the deadline. They told the department about 527 school capacity changes between academic year 2018/19 and 2019/20.
This release does not provide information on the total number of state-funded school places in England as the data only relates to approximately 4% of total state-funded school places in England. Please see the latest School capacity 2018/19 publication for this information.
The underlying data files may be found in the ‘Download associated files’ dropdown below.
Headline facts and figures - 2019/20
No national headlines can be drawn from this data due to incomplete coverage.
Included in this release are:
School level capacity data for academic year 2019/20 for a small number of state-funded primary and secondary schools in England (capacity as of May 2020). These are schools that have seen a significant change in capacity since academic year 2018/19, as reported by the local authorities that responded to the survey.
Local authority planned additional places in mainstream state-funded primary and secondary schools that relied on ongoing building works at the time of the survey, for those local authorities that responded. Includes planned places for academic year 2021/22, as well as a small number of planned places for academic year 2022/23 and 2023/24. Data is shown at local authority and planning area level.
There will be other schools where capacity changed or where additional places are planned, however these were not requested in this survey. Data should not include schools where changes are expected to be minimal, new schools, schools where building works have not yet begun, special schools and pupil referral units and places created by departmental centrally funded programs such as Free Schools.
Local authorities add and remove school places to manage their school estates as necessary, according to current and future demand. 95 out of the 145 local authorities that responded reported significant changes in capacity for 527 state-funded schools. 317 were primary schools and 210 were secondary or all-through schools.
Percentage of significant capacity changes reported between 2018/19 and 2019/20 by school phase:
|Change type||Primary||Secondary or all-through|
|Revised net capacity assessment or funding agreement||21.1%||28.6%|
|Bulge expansion (year group)||6.3%||27.1%|
|Bulge removal (year group)||12.6%||0.5%|
|Age range change||1.9%||2.9%|
Over half of the significant changes reported were school expansions (usually an increase of 30 school places or more). These involved permanent increases in school places as well as temporary year group (bulge) expansions to accommodate large cohorts.
Nearly a quarter of schools had a revised net capacity assessment or funding agreement. The capacity calculated by a net capacity assessment may change if there are any physical changes to the school buildings affecting the area of any space within the school.
Nearly a quarter of changes reported in primary schools involved removal of school places (including the removal of temporary bulge places). There are fewer removals reported in secondary schools which is as expected: the population bulge from the high number of births between 2008 and 2012 is moving from primary into secondary, therefore some primary schools will have removed school places that are no longer needed.
Conclusions on school capacity cannot be made at national, regional or local authority level due to the voluntary nature of the survey and incomplete coverage of all schools. The survey did not ask for information on the capacity of schools with minimal or no changes or the capacity of new schools.
Please refer to the ‘definitions’ section in the methodology for explanations of significant change and change types.
77 out of the 145 local authorities that responded provided information on some of their planned additional places (both permanent and temporary) in mainstream state-funded primary and secondary schools. Most of the additional places reported are planned be available for September 2021 (academic year 2021/22). 25 local authorities provided information on both primary and secondary planned places, 16 local authorities provided information on primary only and 36 local authorities provided information on secondary only.
Conclusions on future school capacity cannot be made at national, regional or local authority level as the survey was voluntary and only asked for planned places which rely on ongoing building works at the time of the survey. The survey did not ask for information on all future planned places, places created through departmental centrally funded programs such as Free Schools or planned removals of school places.
Help and support
If you have a specific enquiry about School places sufficiency survey statistics and data:
Pupil Place Planning Team
Telephone: Natalie Paterson
If you have a media enquiry:
020 7783 8300
If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:
037 0000 2288
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