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One class in five 'full or overcrowded'

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Rising numbers of schools are full to bursting point, government statistics reveal.

One state primary school in five (20.3%), 3,444 in total, are full or have more pupils than they are meant to cater for, according to figures published by the Department for Education.

The numbers have risen from last year, when some 3,376 (19.8%) primaries were full.

The figures are likely to raise fresh concerns about a lack of school places in some parts of England, particularly in big cities such as London and Birmingham.

The statistics also show that nearly three in ten (29.3) state secondaries, 916 schools in total, are full or have pupils in excess of school capacity, compared to 28.8% in 2009.

The figures come as parents across England are submitting applications for secondary school places. The deadline set by many councils for applications is the end of this week.

It has been estimated that around £15bn is needed over the next four years to guarantee every child a school place in a safe environment, according to research published by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) last month.

LGA chairman Baroness Margaret Eaton, left, said today: “Everyone is well aware of the difficult financial climate in which councils are operating. We need to work even harder to ensure that the money that is invested in school buildings represents the best possible value for the taxpayer.

“Our children need schools which are safe, clean and attractive places in which they can learn. Spending money to maintain or replace existing school buildings is unavoidable. Areas experiencing booming birth rates need to be able to expand primary schools so that every child has a place not too far from their home.”

The squeeze on school places has been fuelled by a rise in the birth rate and immigration.

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