Faced with a significant projected increase in the number of children within its borough, Westminster City Council used GIS to help it visualise the likely future demand for school places over a 20-year period. The insight that it gained helped it to plan strategically and locate three new schools in priority areas.
Throughout the UK, the school-age population is growing steadily, putting pressure on councils to expand their education provision. However, it is critical to ensure that new facilities are established in the right locations to meet the needs of families and relieve capacity issues at over-subscribed schools.
Westminster City Council gained a much deeper understanding of the challenges it faced in its borough by using Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution to visualise patterns in pupil numbers. Drawing on ward-level population growth projections from the Greater London Authority, it produced a series of maps depicting the likely demand for primary school places every year for the next decade and at five-year intervals for a further ten years. These maps clearly illustrated clusters of future high demand, giving the council incredible clarity into a complex issue.
Next, the council used ArcGIS to help it make the best decisions about where to site new schools, taking into account both future demand and the limited availability of space to build in central London. It identified potential locations for new facilities and used spatial tools to estimate local demand over successive years. Maps were created showing potential pupil numbers for each proposed new school, and these visualisations played a critical role in helping decision makers, committees and panels to reach agreement. So far, ArcGIS has helped the council approve two new primary schools and one school expansion, creating the much-needed extra capacity in its borough.