Essex: £100m funding boost to help increase the number of school places

Changes being made at High school

Changes being made at High school - Credit: PA

Essex County Council is due to receive more than £100m to help increase school places, boost early learning for two-year-olds and prepare schools to serve free meals to infants from next September.

The money comes from different funding streams provided by the Department for Education.

Over £96m has been allocated to help increase the number of school places in the county over the next three years. The council says the money is to be spent on expanding existing maintained schools, free schools or academies and establishing new schools.

Around £3m has been allocated from the universal infant free school meals capital fund. This money will be targeted at improving kitchen facilities at schools under local authority control in preparation for the potential increase in uptake for school meals for all infant pupils at the start of the new school year next autumn.

Essex will also receive almost £15m of funding for early learning for two-year-olds from lower income families.

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The council’s cabinet member with responsibility for education and lifelong learning, Ray Gooding, said the funding will help the county move towards a “world class education system”.

He said: “It is widely acknowledged that across the county we have significant pressures on school places. While this pressure is currently with primary places it will soon impact on the secondary sector. This allocation will allow us to address these pressures, expand good schools and build new ones.

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He added: “The funding for infant free school meals is much needed and will enable a number of schools who at present are unable to provide hot nutritious school lunches the facilities to do so.”

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