Education secretary Michael Gove has announced extra funding of £2.35 billion to provide extra school places up to 2017.
In a written statement released yesterday (December 18th), the education secretary stated the move to extend the funding allocations period to three years would allow local authorities more certainty in planning their spending.
The government has already created an extra 260,000 new places up to May 2013.
A rapidly growing population has led the government to double funding to £5 billion during this parliamentary term, with the number of children requiring a place at school set to continue to rise.
Mr Gove claimed to be making local funding more effective using data collected from local authorities. He also pledged to provide greater transparency and accountability over how authorities use the funds allocated to them.
The education secretary stated: "This government’s overriding priority for capital investment is to ensure every child has a place at school. Demographic pressures have put strain on schools in many parts of the country … I am announcing an additional £2.35 billion to support local authorities to plan and create new school places that will be needed by 2017."
Mr Gove's announcement was welcomed by Peter John, Labour councillor and London Councils' executive member for children's services, who said that London required an extra 118,000 school places by 2016.
The education secretary also outlined new investment to provide free school meals (FSM) for children in reception, year one and year two of state funded schools.
In a separate statement deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the new school meals plan would save families £400 a year per child.
Mr Clegg added the benefits of the scheme are already apparent, as children receiving school meals have begun to outperform their peers. He announced that from September next year 1.55 million new infants would receive a new FSM.
Local authorities will decide how best to use the £150 million of investment to improve catering facilities in order to meet the FSM commitment.
Posted by Theo Foulds