UK Secondary Schools Need 16,000 New Spaces by 2023

August 19, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. surpass /sərˈpæs/ (v.) – to perform or go beyond what is expected
Example: Today’s sales surpassed last quarter’s sales.

2. shortage /ˈʃɔr tɪdʒ/ (n.) – lack in quantity
Example: There is a shortage of teachers in the country, as most of them prefer to work abroad.

3. accomplish /əˈkɒm plɪʃ/ (v.) – to finish a task or action
Example: I need to accomplish some tasks before I go to New York.

4. assure /əˈʃʊər, əˈʃɜr/ (v.) – to say in a positive or encouraging way
Example: The president assured the people that he will eliminate poverty.

5. occurrence /əˈkɜr əns/ (n.) – something that happens
Example: Loud arguments are a daily occurrence in his family.


Read the text below.
Secondary schools in the United Kingdom are experiencing a shortage in school spaces.

Data released by the Department for Education (DfE) shows that around 16,000 new spaces are needed by 2023, as the number of applicants starting primary school in 134 areas this year surpasses the current number of secondary school spaces. The biggest shortage is in Surrey County and Birmingham City.

According to a DfE spokesperson, the government has appropriated seven billion euros for the addition of new school spaces, which include the construction of 500 new schools. The addition of school spaces is expected to be accomplished by 2021. Moreover, the government assured the public that their reforms and programs are made to guarantee that every student will have excellent education.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT), however, said that the government has been ignoring the problem of the growing demand for school spaces. According to Kevin Courtney, acting General Secretary of the NUT, the government failed to fulfill its responsibility because it was undermining local authorities’ legal powers to build new school spaces. He further added that because of the unaddressed problem, classrooms are becoming overcrowded and the students are traveling longer distances just to attend school.

Research institute Migration Watch UK believes that the shortage of school spaces in the United Kingdom was caused by the growing number of migrants. However, the NUT believes that population growth is a normal occurrence in a country, and local authorities usually have plans to address it.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, what do you think are other causes of the shortage in school spaces?
·         Do you think the UK government’s actions to address the shortage are enough? Discuss.

Discussion B

·         What do you think is the biggest problem in your country’s school system? Why do you think so?
·         What are good short-term and long-term solutions to your country’s school system’s problem?

August 19, 2016