Latest Public Sector News

15.03.13

Thousands more school places needed, NAO warns

256,000 new school places will need to be provided by 2014/15 to meet increased need, the National Audit Office (NAO) has found.

A new report shows that despite a net increase of almost 81,500 primary school places in the past two years, there is “real strain” on schools, with demand expected to increase beyond 2014/15.

In May 2012, 20% of schools were either full or over capacity. The Department for Education has earmarked £4.3bn for the local authorities towards the cost of providing more places and an additional £982m for schools capital, but the NAO stated it is “unclear” whether the current level funding will be sufficient to meet demand.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The Department has ambitious objectives to provide school places, and to enable parents to have some choice of school for their children.

“However, despite increases in places and funding over the last two years, it faces a real challenge, with 256,000 places still required by 2014/15. Furthermore, there are indications of strain on school places.

“The Department needs a better understanding of costs to improve value for money, as well as a better understanding of the impact its funding contribution is having on the ground.” 

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