Leeds: £10m for extra school places as baby boom bites

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MORE than £10m in extra funding will be given to education bosses in Leeds to tackle a shortage in school places.

In a letter to shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg the government’s education secretary Michael Gove revealed Leeds City Council will get an extra £10.2m next year

It is part of £21m of extra cash that will be given to Yorkshire councils – and £600m for 110 local authorities nationally.

Coun Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services at Leeds City Council, said a combination of rising birth rates and the continued influx of people to Leeds was putting increasing pressure on school places.

She said: “We’re very stretched at the moment in certain areas.

“Bizarrely, recession tends to lead to higher birth rates.

“There are also more people coming to live in Leeds. As a city we’re still doing well in that respect, despite everything, so in some senses it’s a positive sign.

“But it’s caused a very sharp turnaround from demographic trends ten years ago when we were looking at closing schools because the birth rate was slowing down. It’s a fascinating phenomenon.”

The council believes it will need 11,000 extra primary school places by 2015.

New schools are set to be built in Roundhay and Carr Manor.

The council is also looking at proposals for a new primary school on the site of the former South Leeds Sports Centre in Beeston.

Coun Blake said new buildings would be “intelligently” designed to allow for classrooms to be added or removed in response to demand.

She welcomed the extra funding, adding: “We have been working with the government for several months because we have known about the additional pressure coming our way for some time.”

But Mr Twigg ridiculed the announcement.

He said: “Michael Gove is fooling nobody into thinking that he is taking the shortage in primary school places seriously. He failed to get a fair capital spending allocation for the Department for Education at the comprehensive spending review.”


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