COLUMN: Working to create the extra school places we need

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Now we’re into the new term, we’re undertaking studies to decide where is feasible for us to create nearly 1,400 additional school places in areas of Nottinghamshire where demand is expected to outstrip supply.

Many of these additional places will be needed for the 2018/19 academic year and we’re working to provide them.

The studies include additional secondary school places following a surge in the demand for places at primary school first seen four years ago.

As well as nearly 600 additional primary places needed across Ashfield, Bassetlaw, and Rushcliffe during 2018/19, projections show us that 800 more secondary school places will be needed in Newark and Sherwood and Rushcliffe over the next two to five years.

These feasibility studies will identify if the proposed expansion of specific existing schools is deliverable, appropriate and represents good value for money so we can make fully informed decisions. Members of our children and young people’s committee gave the go ahead for this action before Christmas.

I must stress that we’re only currently at the feasibility stage and that some of the potential targets may fall by the wayside or be substituted if they don’t prove to be viable.

The cost of meeting this demand will be around £20m and will be provided through the Government’s Basic Need fund.

Once feasibility studies have been completed in the early part of 2018, we will work with the schools and academies to secure the places required.

Between 2013 and 2016, we spent approximately £70m of Government Basic Need funds to create more than 5,500 permanent primary school places to meet demand. The growth in the pupil population is now being felt in the secondary sector and approximately half of the allocation is likely to be spent on this phase.