Funding will also be allocated to rebuilding 261 schools through the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) as well as for maintenance of other schools in need.
Chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, told the House of Commons last Thursday (June 27), that the investment, on top of existing plans, would mean the creation of one million new school places in a decade.
However, the announcement comes at a time when the Department for Education (DfE) is under intense pressure over whether it will meet the increased demand for school places expected in September 2014 (for more on this, see the SecEd report by clicking here).
Many of the new school places will come from plans to build 180 new free schools, 20 new university technical colleges and 20 studio schools – which have been confirmed as priorities for the beginning of the next Parliament.
The funding also includes the rebuilding of schools as part of the PSBP, although this is not a new announcement – the list of 261 most in need schools which will receive money under the scheme was revealed last year.
However, the Treasury confirmed that these schools will be rebuilt during the next Parliament, including 46 in London, 39 in the North West, and 36 in Yorkshire and the Humber. It says the aim is to rebuild 150 schools in “very poor condition” by 2017.
Mr Alexander admitted to MPs that “there are many other schools in need of repair and investment” and said funding would be allocated to clearing this “urgent backlog” too.
The Treasury documentation states: “The government’s first priority for school investment is to meet the growing need for school places. At the same time, investment is vital for renewing schools in poor condition and continuing to increase choice and diversity in the schools system.”
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the government seems to be in “panic mode” about education spending. She added: “Children desperately need places so they can start school in September, promising a million extra places in 10 years’ time will be too late for them.
“Danny Alexander has merely repeated a year old Michael Gove pledge to rebuild the schools in the worst condition. Planning to rebuild only 261 schools will leave hundreds of thousands of children in crumbling, cramped, damp buildings.”
The Treasury’s spending projections came shortly after chancellor George Osborne had told the House of Commons of his specific spending plans for the year 2015/16 (for more on Mr Osborne's speech, see the SecEd report by clicking here).