TG Escapes Blog

How will your school manage with the coming Secondary Bulge?

by Robyn Fletcher | Mar 22, 2016 | Blog, Education

The warning bells are ringing out, heralding an imminent crisis in secondary school places, as the population bulge which has been affecting primary school for the last five years begins to squeeze through into the secondary sector. Whilst the Department for Education will not be releasing official figures for the recently announced secondary school place allocations until June, a number of local authorities are suggesting that the crisis is spreading from London to other major cities and densely populated counties.

London has been experiencing a squeeze on places for a few years, and most recent official statistics show that over one third of children in London failed to secure a place at their first choice of secondary school. More recently, other councils such as Birmingham, Manchester, Kent and Berkshire are suggesting that 25% or more of families living in their jurisdictions have been denied their top preference.

It is estimated that across the country, one in six secondary schools are already at or over capacity, with forecasters predicting that over 500,000 additional secondary school pupils will have entered the system by 2024. It is little surprise that Local Authorities are warning that many councils will be unable to deliver on their legal duty to ensure that every child has a school place, particularly as all new schools must now be free schools, outside local authority control.

The only positive light at the end of the bulging tunnel is a government commitment to invest £7bn during their term of office to provide new school places. So, whether you are a school still within local authority control, and academy or a free school with a growing list of applicants, there should be some funding available to expand capacity.

If your school has just been inundated with applications, you may have been forced to turn pupils away and are possibly considering reducing your catchment area to try and avoid the situation occurring again next year. Alternatively, you may be currently trying to work out how to squeeze more children into the same space. Both reactions are short term solutions to a problem that will not be going away in the foreseeable future, and you are probably going to have to consider the extension of your school’s capacity. However, as the longer term future is unclear and the funds available are likely to be limited, you may well be understandably reluctant to build substantial extensions to the main school buildings.

Major, traditional building projects are not only time consuming to arrange, but can also be expensive, tricky to time and budget and hugely disruptive once underway. Furthermore, if you are trying to solve the problem at a time when headcount is already on the up, staff are working at full stretch and every available space in the school buildings is being utilised, a timely and cost effective solution is paramount. Presumably, a building that provides a teaching environment which enhances the learning experience, motivates staff and pupils alike and is versatile and adaptable would also be desirable. TG Escapes have years of experience delivering solutions that fit this brief.

Typically less expensive than a traditional building extension, a Learning Escape eco-classroom (or suite or multi-storey block) can be tucked away in an underutilised site in the school’s grounds and designed to accommodate the full breadth of traditional curriculum subjects. The use of natural, sustainable materials and eco-friendly methods and appliances make for a high degree of energy efficiency and low running costs, whilst simultaneously nurturing pupils’ sense of environmental citizenship. What is more, an integral design feature that maximises both the penetration of daylight and views of the classrooms’ natural surroundings, is also known to improve behaviour and learning outcomes and generally enhance the physical and mental well-being of the students and their teachers.

The modular construction minimises the mess and disruption on site and allows for quick, easy expansion as a school’s headcount rises further over the coming years. Furthermore, if and when pupil numbers begin to drop again in the late 2020s and beyond, our beautiful, stand-alone buildings can easily be converted to other uses, such as staffrooms, canteens or even community centres. And as our classrooms are designed to last 50 years, they can be reconverted back as the current mini baby boomers begin to have families of their own.

Here are just a couple of the testimonials from some of our eco-classroom customers of recent years.

“You are in effect getting a permanent building for half the cost of bricks and mortar. We were intrigued by TG Escapes' different approach to learning environments and after visiting their other projects we were blown away.”

"The team at The Learning Escape showed us that a tight budget doesn’t mean that you can’t create a fantastic building. It’s clear that they have years of experience delivering a full service, we didn’t even need to worry about the paperwork."

“Pupils love learning in the 'eco-build' and enjoy the unusual surroundings in their classes there. It is a calm and quiet building and it has a great feel about it when you enter.”

About the author

Robyn Fletcher
Robyn has been with TGEscapes for 8 years working in various areas of the company including sales, administration, marketing and customer service with a particular interest in social media. She has trained in business and administration, as well as working for a short time in insurance. Robyn has grown up and lives in rural Herefordshire, she is the mother of a lovely 6 year old boy and has an interest in all things environmental.

More posts from our blog

The Challenges Facing SEND Schools Across the UK

In the UK, the demand for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support is rising dramatically, posing significant challenges for mainstream and SEND schools alike. As these institutions grapple with staffing shortages, funding constraints, and unsuitable...

read more

The Key Challenges Facing Independent Schools

We’re excited to be appearing at the ISBA conference taking place at the ICC Wales from Monday 20th to Wednesday 22nd. Our team have worked with independent schools across the UK on stunning bespoke buildings, featuring a turnkey design and build process,...

read more

How Educational Environments Impact Mental Health

While mental health is a key focus for our team across the year, with our designers utilising biophilic designs to reduce stress for students and staff in our education buildings, Mental Health Awareness Week is a special time to come together and...

read more