PRITI: Schools are at breaking point

Priti Patel MP

As thousands of parents face disappointment over places for their children, Priti Patel says migration has put ‘unsustainable pressure’ on system, reports Asian Lite news.

Migration from the EU is putting ‘unsustainable pressure’ on schools, a leading Brexit minister warned last night – as new figures show a quarter of schools are now full. As parents learn today whether their child got into their first-choice primary or infant school, employment minister Priti Patel said migration had pushed the education system to ‘breaking point’.

She added that it was ‘deeply regrettable’ that so many families would be disappointed today, and a Brexit vote was the only way to take back control over migration. Miss Patel, who was born in London to Ugandan migrants, said the pressure on schools could get worse with five countries – Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey – applying to join the EU.

Priti Patel MP, Indian Diaspora Champion and Minister for works and pensions, is a prominent figure in the Brexit camp
Priti Patel MP, Indian Diaspora Champion and Minister for works and pensions, is a prominent figure in the Brexit camp

“The shortage of primary school places is yet another example of how uncontrolled migration is putting unsustainable pressures on our public services,” she is reported to have said. “Education is one of the most important things the Government delivers, and it is deeply regrettable that so many families with young children are set to be disappointed today. We can take back control of our borders. We can also take back control of the £350 million we send to the EU every single week and reinvest it in our vital and invaluable public services.”

More than 600,000 children will receive their primary school place details today on what is known as National Offer Day. But the influx of migrants – and a baby boom fuelled in part by new arrivals – have left many councils struggling to find enough places. Figures released by Labour show that one in four primary schools is now full or over capacity.

The data – compiled by the Department for Education – showed 3,807 out of 16,759 schools in England have their full allocation of pupils or more. In some local authorities, more than half of schools fall into that category.

Worryingly, the statistics also showed there will be an extra 295,000 primary age pupils in the system by 2020. Last year up to one in five youngsters in parts of the country missed out on their first choice of school. Within four years, the Observer newspaper reported, there will be a shortfall of 10,000 primary places.

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell made no mention of immigration in her press release. She was quoted as saying, “This Government’s broken school places system means that children are being crammed into ever larger class sizes and many schools are already at or over capacity.”

It pointed to figures showing that 25,000 pupils who are nationals of EEA countries (the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein) entered the UK in 2014. Its figures also showed that between 2005 and 2014, there were 475,935 births to mothers who were EU citizens.

There were also claims – furiously denied by officials – that the Government is sitting on a review of the impact of migration on schools until after the EU referendum. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan commissioned the review before last year’s election into how migrant children performed, and how schools with large numbers of migrants cope with the pressure.

But yesterday it emerged the findings would not be published separately but merged into a separate review of extremism being led by Louise Casey – leading to claims of a cover-up. Dr. Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, is reported to have told the Sunday Telegraph, “Any hint that a study announced by the Government and paid for with public money will be suppressed from the public will inevitably raise suspicions of a cover-up.”

Department officials is reported to have said the research was ‘not complete’ and argued that it was ‘absolute nonsense to suggest we are refusing to publish a report on immigration’. A YouGov poll, commissioned by Channel 5 for its Immigration Week, found that most Britons believe there has been too much immigration and want tougher controls on new arrivals. Some 71 per cent said immigration levels have been too high over the past decade, with only 14 percent believing the current level of immigration is about right.