Local authority school places scorecards

Last updated
See all notes (1)
  1. June 2022


This methodology provides information on the data sources and measures used in the ‘Scorecards 2021’ release. For more detail on the methodology see technical notes tab in Scorecard. The interactive local authority school places scorecard is available here:

Quantity of school places measures

The quantity of school places measures in the scorecard data have been derived from three data sources: 

  1. School Capacity survey (SCAP) – an annual survey returned by local authorities that collects information on the below areas. Further detail is available at School capacity survey 2021: guidance for local authorities.
    • School capacity
    • Pupil forecasts, including forecasts of the number of places to be funded through housing developer contribution (HDC) and housing infrastructure fund (HIF) agreements
    • Local authority planned places, including additional permeant places and temporary bulge places to accommodate large cohorts
  2. School Census – a termly census of all schools in England, used to provide pupil number on roll figures.
  3. Central Programmes data – administrative data about the provision of places through centrally funded programmes.

Anticipated percentage increase in pupils

Pupil number on roll figures from the school census data 2009/10 and pupil forecasts for 2023/24 from the SCAP survey have been used to calculate growth in pupil numbers 2009/10 - 2023/24. This provides context when looking at places that have been created and are still to be delivered.  

Places created (difference in school capacity between May 2021 and May 2010 as per local authority survey return) reports net increase in places only, so if phase capacity in a local authority has reduced between May 2010 and May 2021, this is recorded as zero places created. This means that the sum of the local authority-level figures will not equal the overall increase in places at national level.

Planned places are the number of places planned for delivery 21/22 to 23/24 and contains local authority firm plans for new permanent additional places and new temporary bulge places as well as capacity change (increases and decreases) from Central programmes. These include Condition Improvement Fund (CIF), Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), Voluntary aided (VA) scheme and the Selective Schools Expansion Fund (SSEF) and places from free schools opened in September 2021 and planned to open in September 2022, and reduction in places from free school and academy closures.

Estimated number of additional places still needed to meet demand and estimated spare places relates to the academic year 2023/24. These estimates factor in existing capacity reported at 1 May 2021, additional capacity from local authorities planned places, and additional capacity being provided through centrally funded programmes (e.g. Free Schools). This capacity is then compared with the forecasts provided by the local authorities to estimate the number of places needed to meet demand in addition to places to be provided by local authorities and through centrally funded programmes. 

places needed = forecast demand - (existing capacity + additional capacity). 

The comparison of demand and capacity takes place for each national curriculum year group within each planning area to estimate places needed in each. The estimates in the scorecard do not allow for spare capacity in one year group or planning area to be off-set against need in another, or vice-versa. This avoids the risk of spare places in one or more planning areas masking areas of need for additional places in planning areas elsewhere in the local authority. The estimated need for additional places is aggregated to planning area level and then to local authority level. Similarly spare place estimates are aggregated to planning area and then local authority level. It is common for a local authority to have both a need for additional places and spare places, reflecting pockets of localised need for places or pockets of localised spare places.

For further information on the methodology used, see the School Place Planning Estimates Technical Guidance 2021 

Care should be taken with interpretation of these estimates. Please refer to the technical guidance.

Forecast accuracy measure

Forecast accuracy is how well local authorities predicted pupil numbers on roll for academic year 2021/22. Actual pupil numbers from Jan 2022 school census are compared with local authority pupil forecasts for academic year 2021/22 made one year previously, in SCAP 21 and three years previously, in SCAP 19. Primary forecast accuracy is calculated by subtracting the years R-6 actual numbers from the years R-6 forecasts to give the absolute inaccuracy. Absolute inaccuracy is then divided by the R-6 actual number to give the relative percentage inaccuracy. The same is done for secondary but using years 7-11. Positive percentages denote an over forecast and negative percentages denote an under forecast.

Quality of new and existing school places

To derive the quality of places, all schools found in the school capacity survey have been matched with the following data:

  1. Ofsted Inspection data – each school has been matched with the Ofsted judgement of 'Overall effectiveness: how good is the school." as at 31 August 2021 (published November 2021). There are four Ofsted categories: 'Outstanding', 'Good', 'Requires improvement' and 'Inadequate'.
  2. Get Information About Schools – the following school types, identified using GIAS have been excluded:
  • former independent schools which have not had an inspection since opening
  • sponsored academies which have not had an Ofsted inspection since opening as an academy
  • schools that have amalgamated and have not been inspected since amalgamation

New places are identified as an increase in capacity of 15 places or more between May 2019 and May 2021 at each school. The calculation counts the number of new places that have been created in schools of each Ofsted category; and the number of existing school places in each category.

The quality measure represents the window in time when places were added and this is not necessarily the same quality outcome as when the decision to add places was taken.

Cost of providing additional school places

Cost refers to the average cost per place of permanent expansion, temporary expansion and new build projects from local authority reported projects in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18, adjusted for inflation (rebased to 1st Quarter 2022 prices) and regional variation. The cost data used in the scorecard remains the Capital Spend Data from SCAP18. 

Average cost does not include costs associated with land acquisition but does include costs associated with maintenance and building condition or enhancement works. 

This data can be used to help establish developer contributions per school place. The national average costs, adjusted for regional location factors, are shown in the scorecard. See technical notes in scorecard for more information on how to adjust this further for inflation. 

The interactive local authority school places scorecard is available here:

Additional data sources

School preference refers to the proportion of applicants who received an offer of a place in one of their top three preferences for entry in September 2021 in the selected local authority and in England. Data and more information on methodology can be found using the following link:

Basic need funding

Total basic need funding 2011 to 24 refers to the amount of basic need capital funding that the Department for Education (DfE) has allocated to each local authority to create new places from 2011 to 2024. Data and more information on methodology can be found here: