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Scape CEO responds to gov't funding for new free schools

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, comments on government funding for new free schools ahead of the Spring Budget 2017

Posted by Hannah Vickers | March 14, 2017 | People, policy, politics, money

By Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive

Funding for new school buildings and refurbishments, as the government recently announced it would provide in the Spring budget 2017, is always welcome, however, 140 new schools is a mere drop in the ocean of what is actually needed to meet rapidly rising pupil numbers. Our report, The School Places Challenge, showed that the government may need to create over 1,800 new schools by 2020 to house 730,000 extra pupils. That’s 24,000 new classrooms.

Choice is important, but the priority must be to create as many new places as possible in a short period of time, and grammar schools are not the best way to do this

The government’s decision to prioritise grammar schools is a highly inefficient use of resources, because there are thousands of fantastic comprehensive schools that already have the infrastructure in place, and could easily create extra capacity though classroom extensions. Instead the government is proposing to build entirely new Grammar schools down the road, with a very different operating model and requiring new staff. That cannot possibly happen as quickly and the clock is already ticking on our booming school population. Just last week, over 90,000 pupils missed out on their first preference school this year.

Choice is important, but the priority must be to create as many new places as possible in a short period of time, and grammar schools are not the best way to do this.

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