EDUCATION chiefs are scouring the city to find space for a new school.

It comes as figures reveal 1,700 new secondary places will be needed by the mid 2020s.

Now head teachers will be asked if they've got room for more pupils while planning officers search the city for a suitable site for what will be a brand new multimillion pound building.

But with pressure already on schools throughout Southampton sites in the west and central parts of the city are being earmarked as possible locations - with school planning officers focusing their sights on the city centre.

And opposition leaders say the recent primary school bulge caused "massive problems" for head teachers.

But city education chief Councillor Darren Paffey said: "We successfully catered for the primary bulge a few years ago and now a few years ahead of the secondary bulge I will be consulting with head teachers as to what capacity they have to take in more pupils. But there will also need to be a new school - that will have to happen.

"We have a duty to provide a good school place for every child and there will be a public consultation.

"That will be the next step.

"It's very complex but we have to project as far ahead as possible. Those children we provided extra places for at primary but we are projecting for children that haven't even been born yet."

Some schools in the city are already being asked to expand. Bitterne Park School are currently taking 60 extra pupils a year into their brand new £27million building on Dimond Road. Head teacher Graham Wilson said: "This new building is part of the government's first phase of priority school building, and St George Catholic College will be part of the second. But our parental preference is 700, 400 over what we have got capacity to take."

As previously reported the city council is already ploughing £8million into St George, Regents Park Community College and The Sholing Technology College, in a bid to update crumbling facilities and make room for more pupils.

Speaking at the latest schools forum meeting city schools planning boss Paul Atkins said although numbers of school pupils are set to decline after Brexit, that number will be countered by the increase in housing developments which saw 15,000 houses built between 1999 and 2017.

But city opposition's education spokesperson said primary schools were let down by city council education chiefs when they expanded to accommodate the city bulge just two years ago.

Cllr Paul O'Neill said: "Having spoken to heads it caused massive problems with lack of trust. We are going to have to think about how we participate because the council didn't follow through with promises that were made. The funding for extra classes didn't come through when promised. It gave some heads some real headaches. I don't think the council responded particularly well with the last surge."

Cllr Paffey countered the statement and said: "Expanded schools got money."

The full report is expected to be taken to cabinet on February 21.