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Cash boost for Lambeth’s primary school places

Lambeth Council has been awarded millions in extra funding to provide more primary school places across the borough.

Following months of intensive lobbying by Lambeth Council, Schools Minister Vernon Coaker MP announced on Tuesday an extra £9m to expand the number of primary school places in the borough to meet the growing demand for places by 2011.

This means that the council can instigate most of the projects to create a planned total of 300 new reception class places across the borough over the next three years. Although the borough welcomes the additional grant funds, it estimates a further £10m will be needed to complete the first phase of its primary school expansion plans which is due for completion by 2013.

Speaking after a meeting at Parliament with Mr Coaker, Council Leader Steve Reed said: “Parents in Lambeth want to send their children to a good local school. With demand for places growing faster than anyone predicted, this new money will help create the permanent places that Lambeth’s young children need. This is great news for families right across Lambeth.”

Councillor Paul McGlone, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s services, added: “Our hard work in getting the best possible deal for Lambeth’s children has paid off. This is a fantastic result, and the next step is to talk to our schools and local parents to make sure we provide school places and new schools in the areas where they are needed most. With previous grants and funding from the council there is now £47m available to spend on additional primary school places and rebuilding the Livity School.”

In the short term, the council has added temporary classes at schools to provide additional places in some of the most popular local schools. Over the past few years additional classes have been added at Julian’s School, Elm Wood and Kingswood. This year additional classes have been added at Jubilee, Rosendale, Hitherfield, Crown Lane and Immanuel & St Andrew’s Primary schools.

From September 2010, permanent additional places will be provided at Kingswood School and at the Woodfield Centre, with further additional temporary reception classes being provided at Herbert Morrison, Hill Mead, and Immanuel and St Andrew’s. Council officers are in discussion with a number of other schools. Lambeth Council’s cabinet has approved plans for permanent expansions, including ten more forms of entry by 2012, and plans are at an early stage to build a new primary school in the Norwood area as part of this.

Lambeth Council was awarded £12m from the Government last year when its Primary Capital Programme was unconditionally approved, but that falls some way short of what is needed to meet future demand for primary school places and the need to improve our existing buildings.

Mike Pocock, Director of Building Schools for the Future, said: “Local schools have been enormously flexible working alongside the council to add additional capacity to take additional pupils. But we cannot keep providing temporary expansions. We are therefore pleased that there is significant further funding to allow us to provide more of the permanent places required.”

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