Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire school surplus 'equal to 25 primaries'

Gloucestershire has more than 5,000 surplus primary school places, it has been revealed.

Gloucestershire County Council said the number of empty spaces was equal to 25 primary schools.

The figures buck the trend of other parts of the UK which are struggling to meet an increase in demand.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has warned that primary schools would have to find space for an extra 350,000 pupils over the next four years.

Unfilled places

The surplus in Gloucestershire was revealed by the county council's chief executive Peter Bungard.

Tim Browne, who is responsible for school places at the county council, said the drop in numbers was due to a falling birthrate in the county and families moving from rural to urban areas for work.

Based on the 2009 return there were 5,363 unfilled places in the county, the council said.

The Moat Primary School in Gloucester has 56.2% surplus, the highest proportion of empty desks in the county.

Oakwood Primary School in Cheltenham, which was formed from the merger of Lynworth and Whaddon primary schools, has 55.6% of its places empty.

Funding inequality

Gloucestershire Schools Forum deputy vice chairman, Steve Savoury, said the council should consider closing schools which were too small to be viable.

"For the last few years, we've been losing in Gloucestershire roughly 1,000 pupils a year, which equates to £3.5m per year," he said.

"The smallest effective school is a four-class school of roughly 105 to 120 pupils.

"If you're smaller than that, you may well be getting a lot more money per pupil to be able to run.

"So there are some schools of 22 to 30 pupils who're receiving [up to] £8,000 per pupil, where as most schools receive about £3,000."

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