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Policy S3 Education and childcare facilities


  1. To ensure there is a sufficient supply of good quality education and childcare facilities to meet demand and offer educational choice, boroughs should:
    1. identify and address local needs and any shortages in supply, both locally and sub-regionally, including cross-boundary issues
    2. identify sites for future provision through the Local Plan process, particularly in areas with significant planned growth and/or need
    3. ensure that development proposals for housing and commercial facilities incorporate suitable childcare provision and encourage nursery provision within primary schools, where there is a need.
  2. Development proposals for education and childcare facilities should:
    1. locate facilities in areas of identified need
    2. locate facilities in accessible locations, with good public transport accessibility and access by walking and cycling
    3. locate entrances and playgrounds away from busy roads, with traffic calming at entrances
    4. link to existing footpath and cycle networks to create healthy routes to schools, and other education and childcare facilities, to encourage walking and cycling
    5. maximise the extended or multiple use of educational facilities for community or recreational use, through appropriate design measures
    6. encourage the shared use of services between schools, colleges, universities, sports providers, and community facilities
    7. ensure that new developments are accessible and inclusive for a range of users, including disabled people, by adopting an inclusive design approach
    8. ensure that facilities incorporate suitable, accessible outdoor space
    9. locate facilities next to parks or green spaces, where possible
    10. ensure that there is not a net loss of facilities, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no ongoing or future demand.

Access to high quality education and training has a profound effect on people’s life chances and is one of the most powerful ways to break down inequalities and improve social mobility. Every child, young person and adult should be given the best possible chance for success and be equipped to make the most of the economic opportunities the capital has to offer. High quality education and training provision, including the allocation of sufficient sites and the development of childcare facilities, schools, colleges and universities in appropriate places, will not only help to provide greater educational choice but will also improve skills, which is critical in tackling disadvantage. Good quality education and training are vital for supporting people into sustainable employment, which is also essential to London’s continued economic success.

Access to affordable, accessible and high quality childcare (pre-school and school age) provision can play a significant role in children’s development and positively influence school-readiness, future educational attainment, economic participation and health. Universal, high-quality, early childhood education and care not only benefits the whole population but can particularly benefit children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. As well as the positive benefit for children, it also helps to enable parents to go back to work.

It is estimated that an additional 71,000 childcare places are needed between 2016 - 2041[65]. The Childcare Act 2006 places a duty on local authorities to ensure that there are enough childcare places to enable parents to work or train, and also to ensure that there are sufficient funded early education places for all three and four year-olds within the local authority area. In consultation with parents, the private, voluntary and independent sectors, and other key partners, boroughs should ensure the location and provision of a range of childcare services in different types of settings to meet the needs of local communities.

[65] Childcare Demand Projections (2017) GLA Intelligence Unit

Childcare facilities should be safe, accessible for all, and provide both indoor and outdoor learning opportunities and should be provided within new housing and commercial developments, where there is a need. Nurseries should be incorporated into new primary schools, where appropriate.

There is a growing need for school places in London, with projected demand for an additional 60,000-67,000 primary school places and 105,000-122,000 secondary school places in state maintained schools up to 2025[66]. This demand, particularly for secondary school places, requires a strategic approach to delivery, making it harder to quantify within individual boroughs. Boroughs are encouraged to work together to meet the needs for secondary school places. Where possible, sites for schools should be allocated within Development Plans.

[66] Projected Demand for School Places (2015) GLA Intelligence Unit

There is a need for an increase in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision in London. Some of this provision will be within mainstream schools and some within specialist schools. It is important that all schools are designed to be accessible and inclusive, meeting the highest standards of accessible and inclusive design (see Policy D3 Inclusive design).

The London Schools Atlas[67] is an interactive map and dataset enabling users to view both existing patterns of schooling across the capital, and projections of future changes in the school age population. The Atlas is intended to be a resource for both parents and school place planners that supports collaborative working between providers in London.


Higher education in London provides an unparalleled choice of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, continuing professional development, advanced research, and infrastructure to support business growth, such as incubation space and business support services. It is also a significant employer and attracts major international companies able to benefit from universities’ research reputations, such as in pharmaceuticals and life sciences. Universities also play a vital part in ensuring Londoners have the higher order skills necessary to succeed in a changing economy, and for the capital to remain globally competitive. The Mayor has established a forum for higher education institutions and further education establishments to work with boroughs and other stakeholders to plan future developments, including student accommodation, in locations which are well-connected to public transport.

Access to further education (FE) plays a key role in skills development and life-long learning and assists with Londoners’ progression into, and through, sustainable employment, including apprenticeships. There is a predicted increase in demand for FE provision, due to the growing number of 16-19 year-olds and the new requirement for all young people to remain in learning until they are 18. Meeting this growing demand will require strategic planning and working across boroughs. FE institutions also provide valuable community facilities and services. The Mayor will continue to support the enhancement of FE colleges and other training facilities through the Skills for Londoners Capital Fund.

The design of education and childcare facilities is critical to the creation of a good learning environment. Education and childcare facilities should be in locations well-connected by public transport. The design of entrances to schools and playgrounds is important in ensuring that children are encouraged to walk and cycle to the school gate, and can do so safely. All children should be able to travel to school by walking, cycling or public transport. Facilities should be located away from busy roads, with traffic calming at entrances, to benefit from reduced levels of air pollution, noise and road danger. Where possible, natural features such as trees, greenery and spaces for food growing should be incorporated into playgrounds and school sites, recognising both the health and educational benefits these can provide. Healthy and safe routes to education and childcare facilities, should be considered through the design process.

The Department for Education gives area guidelines for mainstream schools[68]. Accepting that these guidelines can sometimes be difficult to achieve in London, innovative design solutions should be considered in order to meet the needs of the school, including the provision of outdoor space.

[68] Education Funding Agency (2015) Notes on area guidelines for mainstream schools: BB103

School and college facilities - in particular sports, play, training and meeting facilities - should be capable of use by the wider community outside their main operating hours. They can provide venues for a range of community activities, including nurseries, children’s centres, cultural, youth and sports activities. Designing schools and colleges with this shared use in mind, and ensuring they are safe for a range of uses, also allows for more adaptability around changing work and lifestyle patterns, and extended childcare and holiday provision. Sharing of facilities such as sports pitches and multi-use games areas and locating schools next to parks and open spaces can also further encourage the shared use of space, particularly where space on a school or college site is limited. Education and childcare facilities could also be co-located with other uses such as housing and mixed-use developments at higher densities.