Annal Nayyar blogs on a recent article from LG – Gove urged to spend on council school places

The Liberal Democrats today piled further pressure on education secretary Michael Gove to prioritise creation of local authority school places.

Party president Tim Farron this morning warned that demand was not being met in a number of regions across the country despite £400m reportedly being re-allocated to free schools, which are outside of town hall control.

A senior Lib Dem source branded Gove a ‘zealot’ this weekend after the education secretary allegedly diverted the funding for new school places to help plug an £800m hole in the free-schools system.

Farron told BBC R4’s Today programme this morning: ‘The evidence is that there are many parts of the country – south-west London, Liverpool and Durham from the top of my head – where there is particular pressure on school places and yet the money -the extra £400m coming from basic needs – is going instead to support free schools.’

Farron added that some of these facilities ‘are not really meeting any demand at all for additional school places’.

‘It’s important that Michael Gove rows in behind what is the number one priority for anyone that is concerned about education, but certainly his department, which is to meet the basic needs of providing school places,’ he said.

Prime minister David Cameron has voiced his support for the Conservative education secretary, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: ‘What the Government is doing is spending £5bn in this parliament expanding the number of school places.

‘Part of that is actually investing in free schools, most of which in the primary schools are in areas of high need, and they’re providing good new school places for people inside the state sector.’

A spokesperson for Gove said: ‘The suggestion we are cutting money for new places in areas of need to pay for free schools where they are not needed is totally wrong.

‘These claims pretend money spent in free schools is not creating new places in areas of need. That is simply not true.’


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