£34m to create more places at Bristol primary schools
BRISTOL has been awarded more Government cash to help create extra primary school places for the city's rapidly growing population of young children.
The city council will receive £34 million over the next two years to pay for expanding existing primary schools and building new ones.
Bristol's allocation from the Department for Education was one of the highest in the country.
Based on the amount Bristol received per head of population, the city was the biggest beneficiary of the handout of all the English cities outside of London.
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Including money already earmarked for creating further primary school places, the city now has £150 million set aside for its school building projects.
However, the city needs £261 million over the long term to fulfil its plans to meet the continued increasing demand for primary school places.
The city council says the £34 million received will be used to fund schemes in areas such as Bedminster, Southville, the city centre and St George, as outlined in the School Organisation Strategy.
Alastair Watson, city councillor responsible for schools in Bristol, said the latest grant reflected the confidence the Government had in the council's plans to create more primary places.
He said: "This funding allocation is good news for Bristol schools and a clear demonstration of confidence in the plans we have for further primary school expansions.
"We will now be able to get started on getting more schemes ready for planning and purchasing the land or buildings necessary."
At a meeting of the council's Children's Services Scrutiny Commission on Monday, Craig Bolt, Bristol City Council's service director for resource planning and performance, said there were currently more than 35 building projects taking place at Bristol primary schools.
He said: "That gives you an idea of the scale of investment in the city around increasing primary school places.
"There is an overall rise in numbers for 2013 but not as great as there has been in the last couple of years.
"There's been very much a conscious effort to get on the front foot for 2014, when we will see significant numbers coming through the system.
"We think the announcement (of £34 million in funding) is a testament to work which has been done over the last couple of years.
"The allocation we received was among the highest in the country."