Have your say on Primary School Places

We want your views on a small number of potential amalgamations and closures to primary schools in Lambeth. This first stage of the consultation runs for 13 weeks and you can have your say by completing the survey links within this page. We would like to hear from our communities. If you are a child, there is a separate link to a survey for you to complete if you wish at the bottom of this webpage.

Open date: Thursday, 16 May 2024 at 3.00pm Close date: Sunday, 18 August 2024 at 11.59pm Type: Consultation Neighbourhood: Lambeth wide Category:
  • Schools and education

Background / Purpose

School places challenge in Lambeth

We face a significant challenge in Lambeth due to falling applications to our primary schools over a number of years. 

Several factors, including people leaving London due to Brexit and a one-third drop in birth rates, means fewer children are going to school in Lambeth. Councils across inner London and outside of London are facing similar issues. 

Changes by central government to the way schools are funded means they receive less money for each empty school place, every single year. This change of funding by central government means that Lambeth schools receive funding based on pupil numbers. Since 2010/11, the National Education Union (NEU) estimate that Lambeth schools have experienced a reduction of £41.5m due to the per-pupil change in funding.

Schools have been assessed by Lambeth Council using trend data of schools’ admissions, placing them in categories ranging from ‘most concern’ to ‘some concern’.  The schools being consulted on, as options for potential amalgamations and closure, identified as being of most and moderate concern using the pupil data, as well as the data on the demand for, and supply of, pupil places in their local planning area.  Lambeth Council have also looked at the strategic impact on the schools’ budget and are required to ensure that as pupil numbers continue to fall, schools do not move into deficit positions in the future, where their expenditure is more than their income. If we do nothing across these schools, the cumulative deficit position for them is expected to reach £17 million by March 2026.

When there are lots of empty school places, this can impact on the quality of education provided and the ability of teachers to deliver a full curriculum, as well as putting schools at risk of running up big debts, putting schools under financial pressures that would put their future at risk.

In 2013 there were 3,243 children starting primary schools in Lambeth – now, for 2024, there are 2,324. This is a decrease of almost 30%.

For reception year classes, in 2024, there are 539 vacancies, (equivalent to roughly 18 classes of 30 children) in Lambeth.

For classes in all primary school years, in 2024, there are 4,555 vacancies (equivalent to 21 schools, with 1 class of 30 children per year) in Lambeth.

The council has been engaging with schools on how to manage this very serious challenge, principally focusing on further reductions in Published Admission Numbers (PANs).

The council has been working in partnership with schools over a number of years to reduce PAN in an equitable way across the borough, with the last round of proposed reductions consulted on in December.  This partnership approach has seen 975 places removed from schools across Lambeth - from 3,650 to 2,675 - between 2016 and 2025. 

However, with not all schools having reduced their admission numbers, coupled with the falling number of applications not improving, this means continuing to reduce PAN alone will not be enough to tackle the scale of the issue. We must now look at a small number of potential amalgamations and closures to deal with this worsening situation.  

The requirement for this process has been to achieve a range of 5% to 10% surplus of school places compared to current pupil numbers, across school planning areas in Lambeth. In planning areas where vacancy levels are in significant excess of 10% a small number of potential amalgamation and closures will be considered. 

With regards to amalgamations, we have only considered schools that we believe are in locations where amalgamating the two schools is a viable option for all students, parents and carers. 

Lambeth Council are only able to consider changes to Local Authority maintained schools.

Lambeth Council is committed to continue working with our schools to address the situation with the aim of maintaining the high quality of primary school education in the borough. We want to work with our communities to manage these impacts as best as possible and ask local people to share their views on how we can protect our high-quality education now and into the future, on behalf of our children. 

We welcome comments and alternative suggestions to the options presented for consideration as part of the informal consultation process.

The option outlined below are a last resort and this consultation is in no way a reflection on the work of Lambeth schools’ staff and leadership, or on the quality of teaching in Lambeth’s schools – where over 90% of our primary schools are Ofsted rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding'.

Should these be agreed, the changes outlined would be planned to take place from 2026/27. This allows a longer period of time for implementation and in which to consult further in partnership with schools, families and trade unions.   

Forecasts for 2026/27 currently suggest a fall from the 2023/24 actual number of Reception pupils on roll in Lambeth schools of -10.4%, (253 pupils or 8.4 classes). There was an 10.2% fall in births corresponding to the same period, a fall of 398 births in Lambeth which would have been school starting age in 2026/27. This forecast shows that if nothing is done, vacancy rates are projected to increase.

Fact file: 

  • There are 62 primary schools in Lambeth 
  •  Lambeth has experienced a one third drop in the birth rate since 2009 
  • We have already removed 975 places (roughly 33 classes) from primary schools across Lambeth (between 2016 and 2025 from 3,650 to 2,675)
  •  There are still 539 vacant places in reception classes, almost 20 per cent of the total available (as at Jan 2024) 
  •  If all primary vacancies were full, this would increase government funding to Lambeth schools by an estimated £28million each year
  •  If nothing is done, Lambeth primary schools debt is projected to reach £17million by March 2026 

The table below shows information by Planning area:

Planning AreaReception Vacancies in 2024 compared to 2023Reception Vacancies in 2024Reception to Year 6 vacancies in 2024 compared to 2023

Reception to Year 6 vacancies in 2024

North+2850 (13.2%)+6467 (15.2%)
West+54109 (20.8%)+16931 (21.6%)
East+71218 (32.3%)+151,603 (29.3%)
South West+2548 (7%)-78413 (8.4%)
South East+37114 (16.2%)+851,141 (20.6%)
Total Lambeth+215539 (18.1%)+444,555 (19.6%)

As the aim of pupil numbers is to have 5-10% spare places in each Planning Area, this has led to the following impacts:

  • The South West Planning Area is already within target and therefore there are no current plans for amalgamations or closures in this area
  • The East Planning Area is currently showing the highest number of vacancies and there will be plans for amalgamations or closures in this area
  • The North, West and South East Planning Areas currently show vacancies above 10% and therefore there will be plans for amalgamations or closures in some of these areas

Communities are being asked to consider each option below individually. Options to be considered are:

  1. Closure of Fenstanton School
  2. Closure of Holy Trinity
  3. Christ Church SW9 (Brixton) amalgamate with St John the Divine
  4. Glenbrook amalgamate with Kings Avenue
  5. St John's Angell Town amalgamate with St. Saviour's

Please see here for a Map of schools in Lambeth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions sheet which will assist you with any questions you may have.  These will be kept live and updated throughout the consultation with common questions.

If you need the consultation information / surveys in another format or language please contact us at pppconsultation@lambeth.gov.uk

When the consultation ends

Lambeth will publish a statutory proposal following the closure of the consultation, dependant on the information received.  If this happens, a second consultation period will open for a minimum of 30 days. If this leads to a decision, this will be taken by the Cabinet of Lambeth Council, after discussions with local stakeholders. 

How to respond