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Pupil slump at high schools

PUBLISHED: 10:01 07 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 30 June 2010

A big downturn in the number of children in Norfolk means almost half the county's high schools will start the coming year with a host of empty seats in their classrooms.

A big downturn in the number of children in Norfolk means almost half the county's high schools will start the coming year with a host of empty seats in their classrooms.

Falling numbers of 11-year-olds beginning high school in September means tens of thousands of pounds are being wiped from school budgets and teachers are being made redundant to make ends meet.

In Gorleston, Oriel High School has 70 vacant year seven spaces.

But the situation has an upside for parents who are finding it easier to vote with their feet and get places for their children at the most popular schools.

That is in turn having a knock-on effect at the least sought-after schools, with more than half the maximum number of year seven places left unfilled in some locations.

The situation has arisen because of low birth rates in the late-1990s, with the smaller numbers of children now filtering through to high schools after having an impact on primary schools in recent years.

Year seven numbers for every state secondary school in the county for 2008, 2009 and 2010 show how overall numbers have fallen by more than 600 in two years - from 8,867 in 2008 to 8,570 in 2009 and 8.262 this year.

The maximum number of available places for September is 9,462, which means there are 1,200 empty places overall.

Of the 52 high schools, 25 will have more than 10 vacancies in year seven. They include:

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