Drive to create Leeds school places

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A drive is underway to stem an emerging secondary school places bulge in parts of Leeds, despite warnings of a “significant” funding gap when it comes to the cost.

A boom in school pupil numbers, which has seen an extra 12,000 places created at primary since 2009, will reach secondary level in coming years.

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“Providing additional places is increasingly challenging both locally and nationally,” said Coun Jonathan Pryor, executive member for learning and skills at Leeds City Council. “We are already proposing to provide additional places at Benton Park school and are working with the education sector and local communities to provide the required additional places across the city. The funding formula central Government uses often doesn’t cover the actual costs of delivering new places leaving the council with a significant funding gap, however we continue to invest in good learning places for children in the city as part of our ambition to be the best city for children to live and grow up in.”

Last week, the Local Government Association warned the issue was at crisis point, affecting thousands of children.

“No family should face uncertainty over securing their child’s secondary school,” said Coun Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the children and young people board. “But the reality is we face an emergency in secondary school places where the number of pupils is growing at a far faster rate than the number of places available.”

Local councils should be given the power to open new maintained schools, the LGA said.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said Government has driven the largest creation in school places in two generations, spending £23bn by 2021 to ensure every child has access to a good school.