Families desert inner London boroughs


A Guardian report highlights that families are being pushed out of central London, hollowing out the inner city and leaving both inner and outer boroughs struggling to adapt to huge changes in their demographics.

In inner London, a city without children is not some kind of dystopia but the new reality as communities are hollowed out

Something strange is happening in the heart of London, something an entire generation has never witnessed. You see it by piecing together the news ignored as too small by the big media and reported only by the local journalists covering their particular boroughs. So try these snippets.

Last week, Lambeth announced that a secondary school founded in 1685 will close for good this summer, with its students farmed out elsewhere. In Camden, St Michael’s primary will not even make the end of the school year – it closes this month, the fourth in the borough to go since 2019. Days before the Easter holiday, Hackney warned that two of its primaries are likely to fold and another four may have to merge to survive. Neighbouring Islington is considering closures, while Southwark believes 16 primaries are at risk.

This is a huge story, not only about marooned children and panicked parents, or redundant teachers and struggling councils, but the very future of our major cities. These schools are not shutting because they are bad, but because inner London no longer has enough children to fill them. The dead centre of Britain’s political and economic powerhouse is driving out families – and its education system is now taking an almighty hit. Hackney, for instance, has 589 fewer kids in reception today than it did in 2014, a shortfall equivalent to about 20 vacant classrooms. Since schools mainly receive cash per pupil, empty desks mean debts, and debts force closures.

Once a primary or secondary school locks its gates, it’s gone for good. That handsome redbrick shell is gavelled off, to be reincarnated as splendid flats for sub-nuclear households, and the only reminder of a proud state institution is the service charge on that private finance initiative wing – which will be levied long, long after you and I have ascended to the great common room in the sky.

A city without children is not some dystopia; it is the new reality. At the Centre for London, senior researcher Jon Tabbush has analysed 20 years of census results, and found families with kids have gone missing across the centre of London. Since 2001, Lambeth has seen a 10% drop in households with at least one school-age child; in Southwark it’s 11%. Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Islington: they are all losing young families.

For the full story go to the Guardian website.

Play news
The Children's Alliance is calling for a National UK Strategy for Play to support the emotional recovery and resilience of children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.