BRADFORD has been given an "extraordinary" £23.8 million boost to tackle the district's "growing school places crisis."

The newly-announced cash will be provided by the Department for Education (DfE) to Bradford Council during the 2018-19 financial year, as part of Basic Needs funding handed down by the Government.

This compares to just £727,005 allocated to the council for the 2017-18 year for school expansions - a figure described as "derisory" when it was announced early last year.

Basic Needs funding is the money the DfE gives to local authorities to allow them to fulfil their duty to make sure there are enough school places in their local areas.

The district's MPs and councillors have welcomed the funding announcement, adding the cash would be targeted in "areas of greatest need" to cater for the district's fast-rising young population.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council's executive member for education, skills and culture, said: "I'm really delighted by this news.

"It comes after a considerable amount of hard work to get a fair deal for the district.

"We have one of the biggest youth populations in the country and naturally they all need good school places.

"I'm glad we've been able to have conversations with all levels of Government to make our case for the investment. Now we can start working with schools to plan how we are going to expand the secondary sector."

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain said: "This is excellent news, and after months of campaigning and pressuring the DfE to recognise the need for greater funding in order to tackle the growing school places crisis, I am glad that the council's efforts have borne fruit in achieving this extraordinary result.

"However as is often the case, the devil is in the detail, and when I meet with the Minister for Schools in the next few weeks, details of the funding along with how it will work with their recently announced and unneeded plans for academisation will be included in my growing list of points to raise."

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins said MPs and councillors' lobbying of the Government was "beginning to pay off" after yesterday's announcement.

She said: "This is great news for our young people in Bradford and a victory for the whole community. Bradford MPs and local councillors have been tirelessly lobbying the Government and that hard work is beginning to pay off. Today we've got 23 million reasons to celebrate.

"I hope this will go some way to tackle the backlog of school repairs and fund the necessary capital investment to deliver much needed extra school places in Bradford.

"I have consistently called for a dedicated resource to address underperformance in Bradford schools and so I cautiously welcome the news that Sir Nick Weller is to help coordinate driving up standards in northern schools. The devil of course will be in the detail."

Michael Jameson, Bradford Council's strategic director of children's services, said: "This is welcome news which means we can now plan ahead with greater certainty to meet the rising challenge of delivering school places.

"We will ensure that any expansions are targeted in areas of greatest need and after full consultation with local people."

The schools cash injection also received cross-party support in Bradford.

Cllr Debbie Davies, Bradford's Conservative Party spokesman for education, said: "It's good news and it is much needed cash overall.

"It will help us an awful lot. It gives a boost to Bradford. The council can now plan ahead for that time."

Cllr Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, said: "It's good news.

"The district still needs at least one more secondary school and two more primary schools.

"We need to sit down and talk about where those schools would be placed and look at if sixth form colleges are the way forward."

But Ian Murch, National Union of Teachers (NUT) member for Bradford, was not as positive on the announcement and said the funds will not be enough to address the increased number of school places by 2018.

He said: "It seems like a lot of money but I doubt the £23m is enough money to provide good quality schools and enough places for all of the extra children that will be using the schools in Bradford by 2018."

This will give a boost after almost 28 per cent of 11-year-olds across the Bradford district missed out on a place at their first-choice secondary school this September.

A total of 487 children, equating to 6.5 per cent of the total cohort of 7,487 pupils, have been allocated a secondary school they indicated "no preference" for, up from 392, or a rate of 5.4 per cent, last year.

The Bradford Council figures, released earlier this month, show that 5,407 pupils, 72 per cent, will be going to their first preference school at the start of the academic year, down from 5,481, a rate of 75 per cent, in 2015/16.