Twenty councils to split £50 million school development fund


Twenty local authorities can bid for a portion of a £50 million funding pot to aid the creation of new schools, the government has announced.

These areas are deemed to be those with the greatest need for new schools and the presumption free school grant could provide as many as 15,000 new school places.

Each region will be able to bid for a portion of the funding, and the grant – introduced by the government in May this year – is designed to help councils to develop schools that are proposed via the presumption process.

Under current regulations, any council wanting to open a new school must go via the free school presumption process, separate to the central free school route that is used by academy trusts, teachers and groups of parents.

Government ministers believe that the 20 local authorities have a “significant” requirement for new school places or have schools where standards need to be improved.

The eligible local authorities can be found all over the UK, and include Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester and Liverpool, as well as Salford, Wolverhampton and Bolton.

Buckinghamshire, Devon, Northamptonshire, Barnsley, Southend-On-Sea, Rochdale, Stockton-On-Tees, Enfield and Thurrock will also be eligible for the grant, as well as authorities in Enfield, Sandwell and Telford and Wrekin.

An estimated £3 million will be granted for a 900-place secondary school, with all funding allocated on a flat rate per pupil basis.

The one-off funding option will require councils to opt-in if they are interested and they must enter a pre-opening phase by January 2021 to be eligible. 

Schools have until mid-November of this year to enter.

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