Picturing the complexity and ever changing nature of London

3 January 2013

We analyse where young Londoners go to school, what kind of school they attend and how the population will change over the next 10 years.

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(Holly Donagh is A New Direction's Partnerships Director)

Taken from the first set of Infographics from our Annual Report 2012, we explore in more detail the Distribution of Pupils by School Type and Population Growth Estimates.

The point of the map is to tell a very simple story about where young people live in London and how this might be changing.

It may seem obvious but it is easy to forget that most children live in outer London. Croydon has the largest general population in London and more pupils than Hackney and Islington put together.

The diverse boroughs of Croydon, Bromley, Newham, Enfield and Redbridge have the largest populations of school pupils. They account for 22% of all pupils in London.

And of course population is not static. The growth figures we are using in this map are taken from the GLA's online tool for estimating population growth. They show the projections for the increase in the number of children aged 5 to 12 by 2020. This is a fairly narrow subset of the population but it tells an interesting story.

Outer east London will see enormous growth - up to 34% in Barking and Dagenham. What does this mean for how we plan school places when we know the city as a whole needs 90,000 new school places by 2016? And when the pressures of housing and deprivation are layered onto these population growth figures what does this mean for the challenges within these areas?

The other clear story in these maps is the shift and change in schools types. It is a good reminder that not all schools are the same and we can't rely on the same strategic structures within local authorities to talk to schools and provide advice. Many boroughs are now dominated - at secondary level at least - by academy schools. The 'early adopter' boroughs of Harrow, Bexley, Sutton and Bromley all have more than 75% of secondary's run as academies.

A key feature of London is the importance of independent schools. 24% of all independent school pupils in England are at school in London. There are about 535 independent schools in London accounting for nearly 140,000 pupils. They are particularly concentrated in the west of London.

Looking at ensuring all young people have access to excellent arts and cultural opportunity should not mean we automatically exclude private schools - it is not a given that all young people in this category are benefiting from these opportunities. Also our research suggests independents are to some degree isolated from local cultural structures, there might be more that could be done to build links and share skills that could benefit state and independent students equally.

Overall these maps give some sense of the complexity and changing nature of London. We are in one of the few regions of England where the young population is rising exponentially (along with the very aged) this is an opportunity to be seized but also planned for.

To access the full set of infographics click here

Download Distribution of Pupils by School Type and Populati (802.92 kB Pdf)