Sutton to get £42m for school places crisis - but is it enough?
Sutton’s schools are set to get over £42m to help fight the school place crisis over the next three years.
The borough will get £42,761,492 from the Government up to 2017 but MP Paul Burstow says he does not think it will be enough to build an urgently needed secondary school.
Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow
Recent forecasts revealed nearly 3,000 primary school children are at risk of not having a school place in 2016.
The Avenue Primary School in Sutton has already been forced to be ‘super-sized’ with over 900 pupils with bulge-classes brought in to help the problem.
The council has approached the Partnership of Sutton Secondary Schools to ask for 120 extra places for pupils at five schools, including two grammar schools, in 2015 when the current primary school place crisis hits the secondary sector.
The council is also considering sites for a new secondary school required by 2017 and it has also been recommended that plans for a new primary school need to be worked up to provide places in 2015.
MPs Paul Burstow and Tom Brake met with schools minister David Laws before Christmas to press him for capital funding to provide an extra 4,000 secondary school places desperately needed by 2019.
They have identified Sutton Hospital as a good site for a new secondary school needed by the autumn of 2017.
Mr Burstow said: "I think [the money] is enough to meet pressures on primary school places, from talking to the council and others, and enough for initial cost of expanding the existing secondary schools.
"But what it won’t be enough to do is to build a new secondary school - which will depend on where it is located and the cost of land.
"The council still have some work to do on crunching all these numbers. There is a relatively short period of time this has to be developed. We were very badly bitten with Stanley Park Secondary School which took far too long to be built."
Paul Scully, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Sutton and Cheam, said it was fine for the council to keep plugging the gaps but they needed to start working with academies of an academy chain to see who is best to build a school in Sutton.
"There’s still time for that funding to become available but it is very pressing because decisions about that school will have to be taken relatively soon.
"The longer the funding isn’t confirmed the more difficult it is to secure, decisions about securing the land and launching the planning process."
Education secretary Michael Gove announced £2.35bn to create more school places up to 2017 on top of £5bn to be spent on new school places by 2015.
It is the first time councils have had three-year allocations of funding to spend on school places.
A spokesperson for Sutton Council said they welcomed the recent announcement but it was unlikely the current funding would be sufficient to meet local needs.
Sutton Council is currently working on a primary school expansion programme in aniticipation for September 2015.
A public consultation been launched on the possible enlargement of three junior schools by one form of entry from September 2015.
The schools directly involved are Cheam Common Junior, The Federation of St Elphege’s Catholic Junior and St Mary’s Catholic Junior.
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