30 November 2009

Labour gives £12million for new permanent primary classrooms

Some good news for the primary school places campaign - the Labour Government has announced that Southwark will be given over £12 million for new permanent primary classrooms.

This year dozens of parents were left without an offer of a local school in East Dulwich and Peckham Rye as the number of applications outstripped the Lib Dem executive’s expectations.

Together with Southwark’s Labour councillors we are now calling for details of how and where the money will be spent so that the classrooms are built by the government’s deadline of September 2011 and so that the lion's share of this cash is spent in our area.

Southwark Labour’s Education spokesperson Cllr Veronica Ward has welcomed this much needed cash boost:

“The Government has recognised that there’s a long-term shortage of school places in the borough, despite the Lib Dem Council Leader’s complacent claims that we ‘coped relatively well this year’.

“This is great news and a serious amount of money, which will go a long way to building the extra primary school places that Southwark needs, particularly in Dulwich. The Lib Dem executive now needs to set out how it’s going to spend the money and where the new classrooms are going to be built so that they can be ready for 2011.”

As a bit of background information for those that have been following this issue - back in July, Secretary of State for Education Ed Balls announced that £200 million would be made available nationally for local authorities facing the greatest pressure on their primary school places. This has now increased to over £271million and Southwark has secured over £12 million of this. Great news for the campaign!

Southwark Council is now responsible for how it delivers the extra school places with these additional resources provided by the Government. A new school would cost at least £10million so is really only an outside possibility. As we need a solution to the population bulge now and there is general consensus that we lack a suitable site in our area, the £12million will probably instead, go a long way to building permanent additional classrooms at existing schools that are oversubscribed.

We will now be doing all we can to make sure that the lion’s share of this cash in spent in East Dulwich, Peckham Rye, Nunhead where there is the biggest shortage of places.

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