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£96m boost for primary schools
PRIMARY schools across Southampton and Hampshire are set for major expansion work after a £96m cash boost.
Education Minister Michael Gove has announced the cash windfall to provide hundreds of extra school places in the next three years.
At least two Hampshire primary schools are set for multimillion- pound expansions, with the county council set to receive £81 million.
And a number of primary schools in Southampton will also have their capacities increased after the city council was awarded £14 million.
The news will come as a welcome boost to education chiefs, with primary school pupil numbers set to swell over the next decade.
In Hampshire there are predicted to be 538 more reception- age pupils in 2018 than in 2012, a rise of 3.4 per cent.
Test Valley alone is expected to see an increase of 103 pupils, while Eastleigh could see 88 new youngsters attending school.
And numbers are also set to rocket in Southampton, particularly in the city centre, where it is estimated an extra 119 places will be needed to meet demand by 2016/17.
And the increase in student numbers could then lead to a shortage of 371 secondary school places in the city by 2019/20.
In response to a boom in pupil numbers across the country Mr Gove has announced £2.3 billion of funding to create new spaces.
Announcing the measure, he said: “This Government’s overriding priority for capital investment is to ensure every child has a place at school.
“Demographic pressures have put strain on schools in many parts of the country.
That is why we have more than doubled funding for new places to £5 billion in this parliament.
“I am announcing an additional £2.35 billion to support local authorities to plan and create new school places that will be needed by 2017.”
That money will be put into the county and city councils’ budgets for school expansion.
Among the schools set for expansion in Hampshire is Wellstead Primary School in Hedge End. The county council now intends to announce a major £4 million expansion project that would see seven new classrooms built.
And Crescent Primary School in Eastleigh is now set for £5 million worth of works, which will add an extra class to each year group, accommodating an extra 210 pupils.
County education bosses are set to announce the full programme of works later this year.
Executive member for education Peter Edgar said: “This is great news for Hampshire and it shows the confidence in Hampshire as an outstanding council, which will deliver 8,000 new places over the next three years.
“We will carefully analyse each school site and obviously in most cases this will mean extensions to schools.”
In Southampton Fairisle Infant and Nursery School and St John’s Primary and Nursery School will see their capacity increased by 30 pupils from September onwards.
And Thornhill Primary School will see an increase in capacity of 15 in each of the next two years.
Southampton City Council’s schools supremo Dan Jeffery said: “I am delighted to welcome the capital resource that has been allocated to Southampton.
“We know the number of primary age children in the city is continuing to grow, and with this in mind, the allocation will enable us to meet the demand for school places in the coming years.
“It is important that we have some stability on this issue as the demographics change, so the three year commitment given to Southampton by Government will be crucial.”
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