Sunday, July 29, 2012

Population boom caused by high birth rate and immigration will force British schools to create 1m more places by 2020

Nearly one million extra school places will be needed within eight years as rising birth rates and immigration push pupil numbers to a  50-year high.

The population boom has already pushed many primary schools to ‘breaking point’ and forced town halls to draw up emergency plans to teach children in disused shops and warehouses.

Now figures from the Department for Education have shown the number of pupils in state schools is expected to rise to 7,950,000 by the end of the decade – 935,000 more than now.

Primary and nursery schools will need an extra 736,000 places by 2020, with the remaining places required at secondary and special schools. Pupil numbers are forecast to reach levels last seen in the 1970s.

The figures also show 106,000 fewer places would be needed by 2020 if migration was reduced to zero.

The growing shortage of places is likely to lead to the opening of more ‘super’ primaries accommodating up to 1,000 children.

All areas will see an increase in demand for primary places but shortages are most acute in the South-East.

Councils in London are already in talks over using vacant buildings as makeshift schools as they battle to house hundreds of young children who still do not have a place for September.

Other measures being considered include teaching children in shifts, breaking class size limits and scrapping the ‘sibling rule’, which gives priority to children with brothers or sisters already at the school.

The figures last night sparked a political row as the Tories blamed Labour for the crisis.

Lord Hill, the Schools Minister, said the Coalition was spending more than £4billion on extra primary schools.  ‘The last Government knew there was an issue as early as 2004 but sadly did nothing,’ he said.  ‘Worse than that, they actually cut funding for new places while squandering millions on expensive secondary schools.’

But Stephen Twigg, shadow education secretary, said: ‘Labour have been warning the Government for months about the huge shortfall in places.

‘But instead of addressing this crisis head-on, the Government has slashed the capital budget by nearly two thirds and are creating free schools, many of which are in areas where there isn’t a demand for extra places or from parents.’

He said the figures showed a ‘crisis’ in primary places in England.  ‘Many schools are at breaking point with pupils potentially being taught in warehouses and empty shops,’ he said.

The shortage of places is driven by immigration and a rise in the birth rate which began in 2002 and is predicted to continue until 2014.

A fifth of primary schools are full, and although there are hundreds of thousands of unfilled places nationally, they are not in areas expected to face a squeeze.

The Mail revealed earlier this year how Labour ordered councils to axe spare places and close schools despite warnings of a looming shortage.

A Freedom of Information request showed that from May 2007, government projections showed a rapidly increasing primary school population in each year from 2009.  Despite this, Labour told councils to remove surplus primary places or risk losing capital funding.


Arizona deputy says he risked life for illegal immigrant

A deputy from a controversial Arizona sheriff's office countered accusations of racial profiling on Thursday, telling a court that he had risked his life to rescue a Latino illegal immigrant from armed kidnappers.

Carlos Rangel told a civil trial alleging Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that, at the behest of federal immigration police, he went undercover to play the role of the immigrant's relative to meet kidnappers, one of whom pointed a gun at him.

The kidnappers were arrested and the immigrant was released.

Asked by defense lawyer Tom Liddy, Rangel if he was an "anti-Hispanic bigot", Rangel answered: "No. I am not."

Arpaio, who styles himself "America's toughest sheriff," and his office are defendants in a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix that will test whether police can target illegal immigrants without racially profiling Hispanic citizens and legal residents.

The 80-year-old lawman testified this week he was against racial profiling and denied his office arrested people because of the color of their skin.

The sheriff, who is seeking re-election to a sixth term in November, has been a lightning rod for controversy over his aggressive enforcement of immigration laws in the state, which borders Mexico, as well as his investigation into the validity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

Arizona was in the news last month when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a key element of the state's crackdown on illegal immigrants requiring police to investigate those they stop and suspect of being in the country illegally.

Arpaio faces a separate, broader lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department in May, alleging systematic profiling, sloppy and indifferent police work and a disregard for minority rights.

The civil lawsuit was lodged in the name of Manuel Ortega Melendres, one of five Hispanics who say they were stopped by deputies because they were Latino, which Arpaio denies. It was later opened to all Latino drivers stopped since 2007.

Melendres, a Mexican tourist on a valid visa in a truck was pulled over ostensibly because the white driver was speeding.

Rangel, who arrested Melendres, was asked by plaintiffs' counsel if he had questioned the driver. He told the court he had no grounds to investigate the driver.

When asked by Liddy if he had ever racially profiled anyone while working at the sheriff's office, Rangel, a 13-year veteran of the force, replied: "No".

In later testimony, a Hispanic woman who is a U.S. citizen told the court she was pulled over by a sheriff's deputy in 2009 on suspicion she had drugs, alcohol and weapons in her car as she drove home from studying at a Phoenix valley university.

Despite telling the deputy she was pregnant, Lorena Escamilla said, she was thrown roughly onto the back seat of his patrol car. A subsequent search of her car did not find any drugs. While she was cited for failure to produce identification and not having insurance, charges against her were dropped.

Escamilla said she later filed a charge of assault with Phoenix police department against the deputy and has since been fearful of being pulled over by the officer.

Also testifying was a Hispanic mother who was in a vehicle with a group of Boy Scouts that was pulled over in 2009 by a deputy for speeding while returning from the Grand Canyon.

Diona Solis, who is also a U.S. citizen, said the deputy was "rude" and "mocking" and unnecessarily requested identification from the boys in the car aged 8 to 11, among them her son.

"The boys were minors ... I thought it was unreasonable to ask them for IDs ... they hadn't done anything wrong," she said.


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