Up to 80,000 children face missing out on their first choice of school when primary school places are revealed today.
And more than 20,000 risk being denied ANY of their preferences – sparking a surge of appeals from parents.
In the most oversubscribed areas, four in 10 pupils are expected to be disappointed.Today (Thursday, April 16), councils will send out offers to more than 600,000 children for primary school places this September.
But as many as a fifth of local authorities are expected to have more pupils than places because of the baby boom and immigration.
Offer Day comes at the same time as Labour released figures showing the number of young children being taught in classes of more than 30 pupils has more than tripled in five years.
Data from councils shows that 102,615 pupils aged between five and seven are being taught in so-called supersize classes – compared with 31,265 in 2010.
Some schools have been maximising their capacity by building extra classrooms.
Pressure is growing, particularly in schools on London's fringes and in cities such as Leicester, Nottingham, Reading, Bristol and Peterborough.
Primary school heads and local authority leaders say that the system is reaching breaking point, with councils forced to divert or borrow funds to finance the extra primary school places needed to cope with the rising birth rate.
The pressure is forcing parents in the worst-affected parts of England – London and the south-east, as well as Manchester and Birmingham – to juggle long commutes or see siblings split between different schools as the supply of school places fails to keep up with demand.
The Local Government Association told the Guardian there could be 900,000 more pupils in state schools in England over the next decade, based on official figures.
It estimates that £12bn will be needed to create places for all of these pupils – and that the pressure on primary schools will continue to grow next year.
Professor Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said: "The provision of places is lagging behind the birth rate. It takes time to build the necessary classrooms and schools and to find the teachers. That's particularly difficult at a time of financial squeeze."
He said the increase in pupil numbers had been boosted by generous benefits, immigration and couples having children later in life.
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