Lambeth: Planning for falling school intakes 

13 December 2023

Written by: Lambeth Council

News and announcements

Lambeth Council is running a consultation to further reduce admissions at primary schools in the borough, with proposals for 45 less places at community schools from 2025.

Three Lambeth academy and voluntary aided schools have informed the council that they will also be consulting on proposals to reduce admissions by 75 places for 2025. 

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Lambeth: Planning for falling school intakes 

The consultations are part of the borough wide efforts to tackle, in a fair and equitable way, the challenge facing the borough’s schools from falling pupil numbers. Further reductions are still needed for 2025, and more primary schools have been invited to review their admissions so that school places can be managed across the borough to stave off the possibility of closures.

Lower birth rates, Brexit and the housing and cost of living crises, have all resulted in less children starting school in Lambeth, with falling real terms government funding for schools further exacerbating the situation.  

It is now estimated that the borough will need at least 575 fewer primary school places by 2025/26 – including the 195 less places already agreed for September 2024.  

Reducing pupil admission numbers has so far been one of the main measures considered to tackle the issue, which is affecting many London boroughs but is particularly acute in Lambeth.

However, as has been previously warned, without a continued, borough-wide partnership approach between all schools, of all types, more significant interventions will now have to be considered. These measures include amalgamations and, at worst, closures if individual schools decide against joining the shared approach to reducing admissions.   

These actions would be needed to manage the situation and ensure that schools continue to deliver excellent education provision, maintaining a wide choice of school type, and offering a balance of community and faith schools across the borough. 

Lambeth Council has previously written to Gillian Keegan MP, Secretary of State for Education calling for government action to ensure schools in Lambeth, and across London, are put on a sustainable financial footing in the face of these serious pressures. 

Cllr Ben Kind, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “We have a really successful network of schools across our borough and we are working hard to protect them in the face of this huge challenge.  

“I urge every primary in the borough to work with each other, together as a family of schools, to minimise the impact on children, parents, carers and school staff. Continuing with a shared, partnership approach between schools will help us to avoid closures and minimise the disruption caused to all.

“It was encouraging to have so many representatives from different types of school speak positively at the Cabinet meeting last year about the partnership approach to manage admissions across the borough. But this shared approach must continue.  

“Doing nothing is not an option, with schools continuing to struggle to remain viable with the threat of closures due to the real risk of declining pupil numbers. We are seeking to avoid significant interventions, such as closures as a worst-case scenario, but such interventions will increasingly have to be considered should schools decide not take a shared, borough wide approach. 

“But if all our schools work together, sharing the load, we can do all we can together to preserve our hugely valued primary schools and have our best chance of avoiding closures.” 

Lambeth has experienced a one third drop in the birth rate since 2009 and the cost of living crisis, the Covid19 pandemic and Brexit have led to considerable migration from the borough. 

Cllr Kind said: “On top of these issues, the government distributes school funding on a per pupil basis. This means many schools face spending more than they receive, putting them in a difficult financial position where they are in debt.  

“Without further government intervention, school closures will inevitably follow across London. We are calling on the Government to work with to find the financial support for schools most in need with funding that accurately reflects the higher costs associated with providing education in London.”  

To take part in the consultation visit: