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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 08:08 GMT
Increase in surplus school places
The problem of empty primary school places in Kent is getting worse, according to the county council.

Figures compiled for the Department for Education show the number of surplus places rising from 12,546 to 14,270.

Dover remains the worst area with nearly 16% of places empty, equivalent to the council running seven empty average-sized primary schools there.

The Kent Primary Strategy was recently given the green light to try to deal with falling pupil numbers.

However, it has been met with opposition from some parents in Dover who fear their children's schools could end up being shut down or merged.

Our predictions for the number of surplus places have been confirmed
Leyland Ridings, Kent County Council

The district is the first to be looked at by education officers, as part of a strategy to respond to falling birth rates.

The council said the primary school places currently empty represented nearly 12% of the total number of places across the county.

Leyland Ridings, cabinet member for education, said: "These important figures make this very serious issue much more urgent.

"We have been monitoring this situation closely and our predictions for the number of surplus places have been confirmed.

"We simply cannot allow 3.5m to go to waste every year."

Behind Dover, there are 15% of places empty in Tonbridge and Malling and 12.68% in Dartford.


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