Surrey awarded £72 million for thousands of extra school places

Surrey has been given one of the biggest shares of funding in the country by the Government to go towards paying for thousands of extra school places.

Surrey County Council said it was pleased Whitehall had listened to it and had allocated £72 million over three years to it for its plans to create 16,000 extra school places.

The county council last month announced plans for an extra 90 places at Holmesdale Community Infant School in Alma Road, Reigate, amongst proposals to boost capacity at six schools.

The school, which has around 350 boys and girls aged from three to seven, was graded “outstanding” after its last Ofsted inspection in summer 2007.

The 90 extra places there were expected to be signed off by county council cabinet members, alongside proposals to boost capacity at schools in the Guildford, Woking and Haslemere areas.

Totting up to a total of 720 new school places, the plans are part of what has been hailed by the county council as the biggest investment programme in Surrey’s history.

The county council has said Surrey needs to find 16,000 extra school places by 2018 to meet a rise in demand from a surging birth rate. Of those places, the council is aiming to create up to 3,000 by next September.

In November, the county council signed off plans for 630 school places at three schools in Staines, Ashford and Epsom - each to be boosted by 210 places by 2020.

Following the Government's announcement, Surrey County Council cabinet member for schools and learning, Linda Kemeny, said: “We’re pleased that the Government has listened to us. “The fact that we’ve been given one of the biggest shares of funding in the country, and significantly more than in previous years, is recognition of the huge demand we are facing at our high-quality schools following a 20% rise in the birth rate - a surge in numbers that is continuing.”

Coun Kemeny said: “That is why we have embarked on Surrey’s biggest ever expansion programme, that will see us invest more than £350 million in creating the 16,000 places we need to ensure every child gets the best possible education.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove moved funding to a three-year cycle and gave Surrey almost £12 million in 2014 to 2015, nearly £29.5 million in 2015 to 2017, and almost £30.9 million in 2016 to 2017. Previously, Surrey received around £13 million annually.

The funding will contribute to Surrey’s £354 million investment in classroom places by 2018.

Surrey aims to find up to 3,000 places by the start of the next academic year, after creating more than 2,800 for this September.

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