Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

15,000 more primary school places

Primary pupil
The primary school population is set to rise

An extra 15,000 primary school places are going to be created in England to help areas suffering from a shortage, particularly in London.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls will pledge £100m to help local authorities facing pressure on places - in addition to £200m already announced.

An increase in the birth rate and local shifts in population have created surges in demand for primary schools.

London councils have said 50,000 more places are needed over seven years.

There will be £270m for new classrooms to cope with the rising number of four and five year olds across 34 local authorities - with a further £30m to be allocated in councils which have so far not applied for extra places.

Almost half the councils receiving the extra cash for places are in the London area - but the biggest single allocation is to Birmingham, which will receive £24m.

There are also allocations for more places in Bradford, Leeds, Bolton, Manchester and Swindon.

Parental demand

A report from London Councils last month claimed that 20 out of 33 authorities in Greater London either already faced shortages or expected a lack of places by next year.

This has been caused by a combination of factors - an underlying national increase in children approaching school age, families migrating into areas and suggestions that the recession will cause more parents to choose state rather than private schools.

"It is down to local authorities to make sure there are sufficient school places available to meet parental demand across their areas," said Mr Balls.

"As part of that, they predict future needs. But it is now clear that some local authorities are now facing big unanticipated rises and so today's announcement will help deal with this issue."

Mr Balls is also setting out the next phase of the Building Schools for the Future project, with announcements for the allocation of a further £1bn to rebuild and renovate schools.

The children's secretary has sought to draw political dividing lines over the school rebuilding project.

Mr Balls has contrasted the multi-billion project to upgrade buildings and facilities with the Conservatives' emphasis on allowing parents to set up their own local schools.

The latest announcement will mean building projects to be launched in Brent, Darlington, Devon, Havering, Kingston, Croydon, Norfolk, Plymouth, Sefton, Wakefield and Warrington.



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