Schools in a city flooded by more than 20,000 immigrants are at ‘breaking point’, education chiefs warned yesterday. Peterborough City Council is planning to build emergency mobile classrooms to ease pressure on its primary schools, which have seen a steep rise in applicants. Every class in every year group is already full, and it has struggled to find places for all 2,438 pupils due to start classes in September.

It is feared that hundreds of local children are missing out on their first choice schools because of the boom. The city’s population has leapt from 165,000 to 185,000 in the last six years as immigrants look for casual factory and farm work.

Peterborough has seen demand for all services increase, and up to 15 camps used by jobless migrants have been found across the city.

Education councillor John Holdich said it was difficult to predict demand for places because it was hard to estimate the number of workers entering the city. He said: ‘We can keep an eye on the demography through births, marriages and death numbers but we cannot easily find out how many new people are moving to the city and they are still moving here at a fair old rate. ‘We are looking to build a new school but because of all the planning regulations we have to follow, that is likely to be about two years off.’

Immigrant communities account for 64 per cent of Peterborough’s population growth as migrants are attracted to the city by fruit and vegetable picking jobs in the surrounding Fen countryside.

Isabel Clark, head of school place planning admitted migrants had put ‘pressure’ on the system. She said: ‘There has been a steep increase in demand for school places causing pressures in certain areas. We have processed 2,438 applications for places at primary schools for the September start, which leaves very little room for additional placements.’

Fulbridge School, one of the schools that is full up in every year, has a roll of 675 pupils speaking 27 different languages – with just 200 children having English as a first language.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: ‘This is clear evidence of the real impact of uncontrolled immigration. ‘The previous government clearly failed to make sufficient provisions for primary education in huge part because they were in denial about the massive scale of immigration that they deliberately encouraged.’

Peterborough Council confirmed that 252 children or 11 per cent of applicants had missed out on their first choice of primary school.

A further 101, or five per cent, were turned away from all of their choices and were instead offered ‘directed’ places in schools that had spaces left.

A spokesman for the council said it was taking measures to accommodate the number of applicants. She said: ‘We have increased the number of available places year on year by increasing some schools admission numbers…and by starting building projects to increase capacity.’

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