Delayed retirement urged for London headteachers as pupil numbers are set to soar

Demand for secondary places in London will increase by more than a quarter by 2025, with 105,000 extra places needed, the first major forecast for the next decade has found.

The research, published today by the Greater London Authority, shows that the capital will need a total of 165,000 more school places over the next 10 years.

The study predicts that demand for secondary places will grow by 26.5 per cent – the equivalent of 90 new schools. The research, the first on pupil numbers for the Mayor of London, also forecasts an 8.8 per cent rise in demand for primary places over the same period – an extra 60,000 places.

Munira Mirza, London’s deputy mayor for education, said the figures were “sobering” because creating new secondary places was “costlier, slower and more difficult” than expanding primary places.

The report will be launched at a conference today, where mayor Boris Johnson will call for London to have a single regional schools commissioner. “A schools commissioner for London is a no-brainer,” Mr Johnson is expected to say.

The conference will also discuss separate research for the Mayor of London, published today, which suggests schools should ask headteachers considering retirement to either delay the move or take phased retirement, to curb school leadership shortages in London

The study, Building the Leadership Pool in London Schools, warns of a shortage of high-quality heads and points to research conducted earlier this year by education consultancy The Key, which found that nearly six in 10 London headteachers were considering leaving their role in the next three years.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We want every parent to have access to a good school place for their child…That is why we doubled the funding for school places to £5 billion in the last Parliament, creating half a million new places. London has benefited significantly from this, receiving almost £2 billion in the last four years.

“Our Talented Leaders initiative is placing outstanding headteachers into struggling schools, and through programmes like School Direct and Teach First we are helping schools to recruit candidates they may have previously struggled to bring in.”

The spokesman added that the current regional schools commissioner structure, in which three RSCs each cover part of the capital as well as a wider region, was “designed to spread excellence into the outlying counties.”

This is an edited version of a story in the 27 November edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full version here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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