Teachers are being forced to stage emergency lessons in make-shift classrooms amid a surge in demand for primary education caused by immigration and rising birth rates, it was revealed.
Official Government forecasts show that almost 455,000 extra primary school places will needed in England within the next three years to deal with an increase in the number of four and five-year-olds.
Labour claim the equivalent of 2,030 more schools must be created by 2015 to cope with the surge.
In some cases, councils are already being forced to teach pupils in empty commercial and public buildings because of the squeeze on space. It is feared numbers will grow in coming years.
In Barking and Dagenham, the council is proposing to rent out an empty Woolworth’s store and MFI warehouse to stage temporary classes.
According to Labour, Brighton Council has considered teaching pupils in a football stadium, bingo hall and redundant churches. The bingo hall has since been sold as private housing.
Elsewhere, children have been forced to eat their school meals in “shifts” because of a lack of canteen space.
In Portishead, North Somerset, 10 children who failed to get into local schools are being sent by taxi to primaries in another town – at a cost of more than £700 a week.
Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Education Secretary, is calling on the Coalition to dramatically increase funding for new primary buildings in Wednesday’s Budget to address the looming crisis.
“The Government must use the budget to deal with the growing crisis in our education system and many families with young children are feeling the effects,” he said.
“With rising birth rates and levels of migration, there is an urgent shortage of primary places in many areas of the country.”
Figures from the Department for Education show that 10 per cent more primary school places – 454,571 – will be needed before the next General Election.
• 100,000 in London
• 14,000 in Lancashire
• 11,000 in Birmingham, Leeds, Hertfordshire and Hampshire
• 9,000 in Kent, Manchester and Essex.
Last year, the Treasury announced that £1.2bn of extra funding would be made available over the course of this parliament to create more school places.
But this includes a commitment to build around 100 free schools – flagship institutions run by churches, charities and parents’ groups – which will often cater for secondary school pupils.
Mr Twigg said the Coalition appeared “oblivious to the problem” of primary school places, accusing ministers of focusing on “pet projects rather than real need”.
But Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said Labour was guilty of "hypocricy".
Figures show the last government was given repeated warnings of the looming problem but failed to invest in primary buildings – diverting cash instead to a costly programme to rebuild every secondary school in England.
Mr Gove said: “Labour’s hypocrisy is breathtaking.
"For years they ignored warnings about the baby boom and splurged billions on extravagant and expensive secondary school projects instead.
"When we said there was a problem, they dismissed our calls as ‘nonsense’. By contrast, we have more than doubled funding for extra places to give local authorities the resources they need.
“Instead of shirking responsibility, Stephen Twigg should admit his party’s mistakes and back this government’s actions to sort the problem out.”