Extra funding for Bradford's schools to cope with increased demand for places

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Coun Ralph Berry Coun Ralph Berry

Millions of pounds of extra funding is being made available to help Bradford’s over-stretched schools expand to fit the growing young population.

And £1.3 million will be available to bring the district’s school kitchens into the 21st century.

The Government has announced that the “basic school allowance” for Bradford, a figure that helps councils provide more school spaces, would rise by more than £3m in the next three years.

Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council’s executive member for children’s services, welcomed the extra cash, but said much more was needed to accommodate Bradford’s rising pupil numbers.

In March, the Government announced that Bradford would get £15.3m between 2013 and 2015 as part of the allowance which could be used on new schools or expanding existing schools.

Between 2015 and 2017, it will get a £18.9m share of the allowance, a £3.6m rise on the previous two years.

Coun Berry yesterday cautioned that the figure was not as much as it might sound and that the Council would still have to fight to get the money it needs to expand its schools.

He added: “We have been vigorously pressing our case for more funding.

“We have a growing population of young people and I think we’ve put a good case forward – £18.9m might sound like a lot, but you could spend half of that on one school.”

He said the money would more likely go towards expanding existing schools rather than building new ones, adding: “One problem we have is identifying sites for new schools and a new primary school can cost up to £10m.”

Coun Roger L’ Amie, the opposition Conservative group spokesman for children’s services, described the Government announcement as “a particularly significant boost for Bradford”.

“The Council will be able to better plan the provision of additional places and in due course more children may also be able to attend their preferred schools,” he said. “I can only hope that the money is utilised wisely and that it can contribute with other measures, to a measurable improvement in the attainment levels of our children in key subjects, improving their prospects throughout their lives.”

Coun Berry also welcomed the funding to improve school kitchens, adding: “We will now begin assessing all our kitchens to see which ones require investment. Now more than ever schools want to cook fresh food, and schools might want kitchens where pupils can get more involved.”

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