£20m for extra school places in Worcestershire

Malvern Gazette: More primary school places heading to Worcestershire More primary school places heading to Worcestershire

SCHOOLS in Worcestershire are being handed a £20 million funding boost - as the Government relented on the need to create extra places.

Worcestershire County Council is getting £19.9 million from the Department for Education to help schools fund extra class places for pupils.

It follows years of major pressure on the council to increase pupil numbers due to a steady baby boom since 2000.

The cash, which will go to primaries, will apply between this September and 2017, and forms part of £2.3 billion towards new school places across the country.

It is the first time councils have been given three-year deals on school place funding, as before now top-up funding was announced every 12 months.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: “It is great news for young people in Worcester that the Government has found billions of extra funding to ensure every child has a place at school so that they can fulfil their potential.

“This is part of our long-term plan to create an education system that gives young people who want to work hard the skills they need to get on in life and have a more secure and better future.

“A good boost to capital funding will help but we still need to fix the underlying funding formula which has never given local schools a fair deal.

“I will keep campaigning on this and keep up the pressure to make sure it is introduced and implemented as soon as possible.”

Between 2004 and 2009 the old Labour Government cut 207,000 primary school places, instead concentrating on investing heavily in secondary schools.

Secondary school heads in Worcester say any extra education funding is welcome, but that giving the county fairer funding should still be the priority.

Neil Morris, head teacher of Christopher Whitehead Language College in Bromwich Road, St John’s said: “I know of schools down the road in Birmingham which over the last 20 years have got £20 million more than us, £1 million extra every year.

“These are schools the same size. Some of them don’t even know what to do with the money, saying ‘let’s get the pupils some extra pens’.

“Any extra education funding is great news, I’m delighted, but I do take a jaundiced view.

“I’m frustrated as we need that fairer funding. Robin Walker is doing his best.”

The Government has already announced a new funding formula will be launched in 2015 which is designed to make it fairer.

Average overall school spending per pupil is £5,100 in Worcestershire, £1,333 lower than that in Birmingham and 145th in a national league table of 151 education authorities.

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