Government cash boost for Plymouth schools
CITY schools are to get a bonus £700,000 as part of a £4billion Government handout.
The cash boost means work can go ahead to expand five primary schools to cope with rising numbers of children.
The Department for Education has announced that Plymouth City Council will get a total of £6.59million to expand school places.
And its schools maintenance budget has also been boosted to £2.6million.
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The money – more than the authority was expecting – is only for local authority-controlled schools and does not affect any of the new academies.
Councillor Nicky Williams, Plymouth's Cabinet member for children and young people, said: "This funding announcement does not replace the Building Schools for the Future funding that was lost but it will be well used and is nevertheless welcome.
"We are all feeling pretty pleased after seeing how much Plymouth has been allocated to expand and maintain our city's school buildings."
She said the council had budgeted £6.25million to expand the schools it controls as part of its Basic Need programme.
The spending is needed to cope with an increase in the number of primary-age pupils in some parts of the city.
"The announcement means we have an extra £340,000, as the total Government settlement was £6.59million," Cllr Williams said.
"This is good news as we can press ahead with our plans to expand Salisbury Road Primary, St Peters CE Primary, St Joseph's Primary, Stoke Damerel Primary and Pilgrim Primary this year."
She said there was "even better news" in the schools maintenance budget.
"We forecast £2.2million and we received £2.6million so we have an extra £355,000," Cllr Williams added.
"The extra cash may mean we can award more money to more schools requiring work to ensure their classrooms and facilities are up-to-date and fit-for-purpose.
"We'll need to make those decisions to ensure the cash is used to maximum effect for the benefit of children and young people."
The council also has the opportunity to bid for a share of the £1billion Targeted Basic Need fund.
Cllr Williams added: "We are excited by the opportunity.
"This gives us the chance to seek funding for the strategic growth of the city where housing schemes are unable to contribute to education infrastructure.
"This will reduce the burden on housing developments and stimulate housing growth."
But she warned that the money would not pay for work needed in all schools.
"We would dearly love to carry out work in each," she said, adding that the limited budget would be used to prioritise the most urgent need.
"All in all, today's announcement is really good news for Plymouth as building work in schools means better facilities for our children, investment and jobs in the city and the potential for continued growth," she said.