How many times did the Salford Star and others warn Salford Council not to knock down, merge and close its primary and secondary schools? (see here) The warnings fell on the deaf ears of both councillors and highly paid officers. Now the city has an ongoing schools crisis with a new Salford Council report predicting demand for primary school places to outstrip supply by 2013, with a huge deficit by 2018.
Salford's population is set to mushroom by a quarter, or by another 58,000 people by 2030, the highest percentage growth in Greater Manchester, based on the Office of National Statistics (ONS) birth, death and migration trends.
In the withering report `Pupil School Provision Programme 2013-18', a graph (see main illustration) shows that even as primary school numbers were rising in 2010 and 2011, Salford Council was still reducing its school capacity. And you didn't have to go far out of Langworthy (Langworthy Road Primary, Seedley Primary and Tootal Drive Primary closed) or East Salford (Charlestown Primary and North Grecian Street Primary closed) to see that.
Now the report states that 700 extra school places are being created in September in 23 schools across the city to cope with demand, on top of 500 places that were created last year. People might well ask how Salford Council could get its predictions so wrong – by 1300 school places!
The Council is putting five temporary classrooms into schools next year with overcrowding almost a cert, and is holding a seminar with school heads and governors to see what ideas they can come up with to ease the crisis, plus a special `Mayoral Working Party'.
Ideas put forward by the Council include sticking extensions on existing schools, bringing schools its already closed down back into use (as predicted by the Star re Charlestown – see here), shoving primary pupils into secondary schools, turning Council buildings into schools (what, like the bin depot?), and, er, building new schools.
It also appears that the Council is changing catchment areas so it can lump loads of kids into any available school whether it suits parents and pupils or not.
The whole sorry mess has cost over £500,000 and not only eaten up all the contingency for Salford schools this year but gone £52,000 over that contingency.
With Salford Council's academy programme underway, which will take schools out of local authority control (see here) the whole mess is likely to get worse over the next few years…