Croydon council have welcomed a government pledge of £12m extra funding to deal with increased demand for primary school places in the borough.
The Department of Children, Schools and Families have allocated over £270 million to build classrooms and facilities in 34 boroughs to help cope with the “exceptional growth” in the numbers of four and five-year-old pupils.
It was reported in November that Croydon was amongst 12 boroughs that would need more than 2,000 extra places over the next three years. The government funding will create an extra 15,000 places according to the DCSF.
Councillor Tim Pollard, Cabinet member for Children’s Services at Croydon Council said: “It’s very welcome. It enables us to cope with what’s happened.”
Despite the cash injection, the situation in Croydon is still a long way from resolution. “It is almost inevitable that, as a borough, we are going to have to invest extra funding ourselves,” added Cllr Pollard. “I am not turning my nose up at it, but we have to convert an already existing secondary school building into [our] new primary school, which will use up half of the £12 million.”
Cllr Pollard blamed the presence of the UK Border Agency in Croydon attracting immigrants to the borough for the heavy demand on school places.
“If you are already in the country and seeking asylum, the only place to go is Croydon,” he said. “What we see in our schools now are a lot of asylum seekers, because they too need education.
There were 16 London local authorities granted funding out of the 34 successful national borough applications. Croydon was awarded the fifth highest amount of £12,834,000. However, none of the other EastLondonLines boroughs were in the list.
A statement from London Councils read: “A recent report revealed that 28 of 32 London boroughs are experiencing primary school capacity issues currently or expect to in future years – so at least 12 of these will not receive any funding from the government.”