The Government has allocated an extra £500 million to more than 100 councils to provide extra school places. The money is coming from efficiency savings in the Building Schools for the Future schemes that are still proceeding. The money has been saved by renegotiating with contractors to reduce extravagance. Projections shows a particular shortage of primary school places yet Labour's BSF programme only applied to secondary schools and much of the spending was not about proving extra places. They new we were heading for a shortage of school places for primary school children but failed to do anything like enough about it.
The breakdown for each council shows that London has done – getting more than half the money. This reflects the particularly acute shortages anticipated in the capital. The FT have produced an interactive map showing where the shortages are.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said:
By using the most up-to-date information available we are making sure the savings identified are being targeted to local authorities experiencing the most severe need.
I understand the economic situation means difficult choices need to be made about how to direct funding but I urge local authorities to target resources at managing the shortfalls in pupils places wherever they are most needed, and taking into account of the views of parents. This is especially pertinent in light of the data released last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that previous projections for population growth were underestimated and by 2020 there will be around 21 per cent more primary age children than in 2010.
Today’s extra funding means that in 2011-12, a total of £1.3 billion will have been allocated to fund additional school places. The Government already announced an allocation of £800 million funding in December 2010, twice the previous annual level of support. The nature of this funding, (capital grant which is not ring fenced) the nature of the projects it will fund, (mainly small primary school projects) and the readiness of local authorities to get projects underway mean that this money will be spent efficiently. Further, I expect much of it to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises and to stimulate local economic activity across the country.