Councils warn of £1bn shortfall in funding for new school places

The discussion of class sizes continues this week, with new research from the Local Government Association (LGA) released today showing more than three-quarters of councils who responded to an LGA survey did not receive enough Government money to create the extra school places needed in their area between 2011/12 and 2016/17.

Last week, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said that the number of infant pupils taught in classes with more than 30 pupils has increased by 200 per cent since 2010, blaming the Government’s free schools policy for diverting money from providing more primary places.

The LGA asked councils if cash provided by the Department for Education had met the full cost of providing school places between 2011/12 and 2016/17. Some 77 per cent of respondents said the money had not been enough.

The Department for Education says it is spending £5bn over the course of this parliament on new school places, with more than 260,000 spaces being created in the last few years alone.

But the LGA said it was not enough, particularly with recent pressure on primary school places now starting to be felt in state secondaries.

Last year, councils created an additional 90,000 primary places, but LGA analysis revealed a further 130,000 would still be needed by 2017/18, while 80,716 new secondary places will be needed by 2019/2020.