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School places investment pays off for Staffordshire parents

Thanks to millions of pounds of investment into schools in Staffordshire, nine out of ten children in Staffordshire have been allocated their first choice primary school.

Staffordshire County Council has added nearly 8,000 primary and secondary school places over the past five years, at a cost of £61 million. This has meant the county council has managed to accommodate the school choices of the vast majority of parents for the last five years, and is looking to add more places to ensure parents still have a choice where to send their child.

Nearly 99 per cent have been allocated one of their top three preferred places, and out of 9,052 applications for a school place in the county, 8,497 parents have been allocated their first choice primary school.

Demand for school places has risen nationally due to rising birth rates and new housing developments. In Staffordshire, the county council has made plans to add another 7,900 primary and secondary school places within the next five years, at an estimated cost of £151 million.  This will be a combination of building brand new schools, and working with head teachers and governors on expanding existing schools where possible.

Funding for these schools will be met by the county council, developer contributions, and the Education and Skills Funding Agency. Currently under construction is a brand new £30 million high school, the first in the county for over 25 years, and a number of new primary schools.  More will follow in the next few years, along with expansions at existing schools.

County Councillor Philip White, Cabinet Support Member for Learning and Employability said that work to increase school places in the county began as early as four years ago.

He said:  “Over the past four years, we have been looking at projected rises in pupil numbers over the next 15 years and formed a comprehensive county-wide plan to ensure there are enough primary and secondary school places available across the county.

“By mapping where new housing developments are, as well as where the birth rate is increasing, we can confidently predict were the demand will be and put measures in place to ensure we can meet it.

“In Burton for example, planned housing developments and an increasing birth rate mean a considerable number of new secondary school places will be needed over the next 15 years. Construction is nearly complete on the new £30million high school in Tatenhill, which will accommodate 1,440 pupils and is due to open in September this year.

“In addition to this, we are already working on a number of options for providing more pupil places when they are needed.  Due to our forecasting and extensive planning, we are confident in Staffordshire that we can provide the primary secondary school places needed over the next few years.”

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