Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man birth rate peak to 'push up school costs'

A sudden rise in the Isle of Man's birth rate is expected to push up school costs, the government has said.

Figures from the 2011 Manx census predicts that a recent birth peak could mean an 18% rise in the demand for school places in September 2013.

The Education Department is expecting the number of four and five-year-olds to increase from about 850 to 1,000.

Education Executive Stuart Dobson said: "Potentially this could cost the government an additional £1m a year."

He added: "That is the worst case scenario and hopefully it won't be anywhere near that but if the figures are right we will need to find extra places for about 150 children, we were not expecting that - we have a bulge coming through and we can forecast that over the next three years.

"Obviously we do get fluctuations but normally there are about 830 children born every year on the island, the census indicates that we can expect 1,012 to start school in the next year - that's a considerable increase."

Temporary classrooms

Should the increase in numbers materialise, the Department of Education would have to start recruiting new teachers at a time when budgets are extremely tight.

Education officials have already been in touch with the Treasury to flag up the issue.

There are currently about 45 reception classes on the Isle of Man, each costing in the region of about £80,000 every year in staffing costs alone.

It is thought some schools, depending on the distribution of the extra children, could be given temporary classrooms to deal with the increased demand.

"We normally ask parents to register their children between Christmas and June but this year we are asking parents to make this decision as soon as possible to give us an idea of what we are dealing with," Mr Dobson continued.

"Obviously we will accommodate this need- every parent has a right to send their children to a school within their own catchment area."

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