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City schools in crush for places crisis.

Byline: Ben Hurst Staff Reporter ben.hurst@trinitymirror.com

BIRMINGHAM'S cash-strapped education chiefs are facing a school places crisis as the city has one of the highest birth rates in the country, while being hit by record levels of migration.

Council officials are now drawing up emergency plans but are faced with immediate problems, including finding places for an extra 2,100 primary school children by 2015.

By 2019 the authority must find room for 10,650 more children, the equivalent of 355 new classes. New census statistics from the government reveal Birmingham is fourth in the country in terms of average family size, well above the national average.

The crisis follows a period which actually saw the birth rate decline and schools close.

Council officials said the problem was being made more acute by net migration into the city by families with young children.

'' This is challenging during current extended period increased birth Many parents already have a nightmare trying to get children into their school of first choice. Figures show that last year just one in three Birmingham youngsters got their first preference.

Nationally the average number of children per family household is 1.79 but in Birmingham this has risen recently to 1.98, behind only Tower Hamlets, Bradford and Newham.

A council report, entitled Birmingham Education Sufficiency Requirements, said: "The local authority has a statutory duty to meet basic needs by ensuring that every child of school age is provided with a school place. "This is particularly challenging during the current extended period of increased birth rates in Birmingham."

The school places problem is being compounded by migration into the city which in just the school year of 2011-12 saw more than 850 primary school aged children arrive.

These pupils also present challenges to the education system due to cultural issues, with many unable to speak English.

very the of rates.

COUNCIL REPORT

''This is very challenging during the current extended period of increased birth rates. COUNCIL REPORT

CAPTION(S):

An explosion in birth rates and migrant numbers is threatening a schools places crisis in Birmingham

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 26, 2013
Words:350
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