Local authority school places scorecards



This methodology provides an overview of the data sources and measures used in the ‘Scorecards 2019’ release. For more detail on the methodology see the technical notes tab in Scorecard: Local authority school places scorecards 2019

Data sources (quantity measures)

The quantity of school places measures in the scorecard data (including forecast accuracy) 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 2019: guidance for local authorities.
    • School capacity
    • Pupil forecasts, including forecasts of the number of places to be funded through housing developer contribution (HDC) agreements
    • Local authority planned places, including additional, bulge and removed places
  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.

Pupil number on roll figures from the school census data 09/10 and pupil forecasts for 21/22 from the SCAP 2019 survey have also been used to calculate growth in pupil numbers 2009/10 - 2021/22

Quantity of school places measures

Places created (difference in school capacity between 2019 and 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 2019, 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 19/20 to 21/22 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. Central programmes include Condition Improvement Fund (CIF), Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), and the Selective Schools Expansion Fund (SSEF) and places from free schools opened in September 2019 and planned to open in September 2020, and reduction in places from free school and academy closures.

Estimated number of additional places needed to meet demand and estimated number of spare places relates to the academic year 2021/22. These estimates factor in existing capacity reported at 1 May 2019, 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 Tables 2019: technical note Care should be taken with interpretation of these estimates. Please refer to the technical note.


Forecast accuracy measure

Forecast accuracy compares actual pupil numbers on roll for academic year 2018/19 (from May 2019 school census data) with local authority forecasts for academic year 2018/19 made one year previously (in SCAP 18) and three years previously (in SCAP 16). 

It 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 2019 (published November 2019). 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

3. School Performance data – primary schools have been matched with the key stage 2 progress measure for reading and maths, for academic year ending July 2019 (published December 2019). Secondary schools have been matched with the key stage 4 progress 8 measure across 8 key subjects, for academic year ending July 2019 (published January 2020). These measures judge schools’ performance as 'well above average', 'above average', 'average', 'below average' or 'well below average'.

New places are identified as an increase in capacity of 15 places or more between May 2018 and May 2019 at each school. The calculation counts the number of new places that have been created in schools of each Ofsted category and performance 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

Costs derived from local authority reported projects in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18, adjusted for inflation (rebased to 1st Quarter 2020 prices) and regional variation. This local authority data was provided through the 2018 Capital Spend return. No cost data was collected in 2019 (the Capital Spend data collection was removed from the SCAP survey pending the introduction of the Capital Spend Survey).

The scorecard cost measure refers to the average cost per additional school place from permanent expansions, temporary expansions and new build projects. 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 by adjusting the national average. See technical notes tab in scorecard for more information on how to do this.

Additional data sources

Total basic need funding 2011-22 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 2022. Data and more information on methodology can be found using the following link:

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 2019 in the selected local authority and in England. Data and more information on methodology can be found using the following link: