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New End: Primary school faces pupil shortage challenge

Camden has lowest birth rate in the country

14 October, 2021

New End School [Oast House Archive]

A HAMPSTEAD primary school is the latest to be hit by a shortage of pupils with governors set to meet to discuss how to respond to the falling roll.

New End School governors will get together next week to discuss the issue as only 36 children were admitted in September last year as opposed to a planned annual intake of 60 pupils.

Under the per-pupil funding system it has faced reduced funding because of the shortfall in each of the last four years.

The figures were revealed at a council education meeting on Tuesday night, which heard that Camden’s birth rate is now at its lowest point since 1991 and is the bottom of the league of local authorities countrywide.

By the end of the decade only 2,040 babies a year are projected to be born in Camden, compared to more than 3,000 in 2012.

Committee member Conservative councillor Stephen Stark who has been a governor at New End for 15 years, told the New Journal: “All the governors are worried by this because they know how good the school is and how good the teaching is, and we want to make sure that children aren’t affected by this.”

A report showed the scale of problems with falling school rolls across the borough. The council cautioned that the forecast and picture may change, and officials are adopting a “wait and see” strategy – but the projection based on figures provided by City Hall show the birth rate will continue to fall.

Similar problems are faced by other London boroughs.

Part of the fall was attributed to the cost of living and changing demographics in Hampstead and Camden, with some families pushed out of the area due to the rent levels.

Cllr Stark added that Brexit had a big influence on the shift, with families returning to their home countries.

Private schools also have had an impact. Nearly a third of children in Camden go to private primary schools, and 38 per cent attend secondary private schools.

Education scrutiny committee member Alison Kelly said: “If you walk through Hampstead at three to half-past-three in the afternoon you can’t move for cars, children and parents. The number of private schools up in Hampstead is absolutely astronomical.

“I was really really disappointed to read the figures about New End School because it used to be oversubscribed.”

Other schools facing similar pupil deficits include Brecknock, Camden Town, Netley Primary near the Regent’s Park estate and Brookfield in Highgate. Faith schools have also been hard hit.

Earlier this year Carlton Primary School, which taught generations of children in Queen’s Crescent, closed with the majority of its pupils moving to an expanded Rhyl School, which also uses part of the former’s Grafton Road site.

Others, including St Dominic’s dropped the number of pupils coming into its reception class, and the picture was similar for secondary schools, with Haverstock reducing the number of classes in this year’s Year 7 classes by one-and-half.

Richard Lewin, the council’s chief education official said: “Since 2018 the council has taken some very difficult action to remove 7.5 forms of entry from our schools, which equates to 225 pupils per year group, which has led to the closure of three of our schools.”

The projections take into account building developments over the next decade, although the document only shows 950 homes for the 02 Centre, not 1,850 from its latest iteration.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “New End School is a fantastic place with a dedicated staff and an engaged and enthusiastic school community.

“Low birth rates and the high cost of living in London means a number of our schools are dealing with a reduction in numbers. This has been a trend in Camden and across London for several years and we’re working closely with our schools to support them.


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