NurseryRising demand for primary school places will leave the system under "real strain" come autumn 2014 according to a warning from the National Audit Office.

The spending watchdog said one in five primary schools in England was full or near capacity and there were signs of "real strain" on places.

The demand for places has been driven by England's birth rate rising quicker than at any time since the 1950s.

Schools minister David Laws said the government was "reversing idiotic policies" followed under Labour that had seen 200,000 school places cut. "80,000 extra places have been created and demand will be met," he add.

The NAO's report said that despite the creation of those 80,000 extra places in the past two years and an overall surplus of places nationwide, the system was under strain and that, until last year, the government was unable to identify "hotspots" easily.

In total, 256,000 new school places are needed by 2014-15, 240,000 in primary schools, it said. London has the greatest need - accounting for 37% of the extra primary places required, according to the NAO.

David Simmonds, of the Local Government Association, said: "This report clearly shows that, despite the best efforts of councils, we are still facing unprecedented pressures in tackling the desperate shortage of new, good quality school places.

"The process of opening up much-needed state schools is being impaired by a lack of capital funding and in some cases by the presumption in favour of free schools and academies."

SAPHNA's Sharon White spoke at JFHC Live 2013 this week on how rising birth rate is impacting on school nurse practice - to read more on her seminar and other highlights from the event head to www.jfhc.co.uk/jfhc_live_2013_33265.aspx 

Posted 15/03/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com