GUEST COLUMN: Creating school places, by Coun Robin Peck, NCC’s committee chairman for children and young people

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We’ve been working incredibly hard over recent months to meet the growing demand for extra school places across certain areas of the county – as a result, an extra 720 places will be ready during the autumn term.

Eleven schools are benefiting from our £5.5 million investment including Heatherley Primary School in Mansfield where 105 more places are being created – the new foundation unit is already occupied and the next phase to provide three additional classrooms will be finished in a couple of months.

The increase in demand for primary places has been, and is likely to remain, sustained for some years.

We need to be thinking ahead - when we expand the permanent capacity of primary schools across Nottinghamshire, we provide additional places throughout all seven year groups, rather than just first admission places.

We’re also committed to expanding the junior schools linked with these infant schools and will be starting building work for an additional 480 places at the related linked junior schools this autumn so enough places are available once the larger class sizes move into Key Stage 2 in 2018.

Including these most recent expansions, we’ve created 3,200 additional primary school places since 2013 - a total council investment of nearly £48m.

In addition, we’ve already started discussions with several primary schools about potential expansion projects for September 2016.

And whilst what goes on inside school buildings is the most important factor in education, we know that better facilities are also an aspect of improving educational standards.

Momentum is also increasing around the school rebuilds using cash from the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) in partnership with the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

Rebuilding of Flying High Academy at Ladybrook is expected to be completed this November with Abbey Primary and Wainwright Academy ready next April.

The county council successfully bid for funding from the PSBP to replace 12 schools across the county and the first rebuild, Fountaindale Special School in Mansfield, opened its doors last November.

These projects are tremendous opportunities to continue our investment in our children’s futures that started with our ambitious programme of school refurbishments.

By the end of the year, we also expect to have completed the vast majority of our Schools Capital Refurbishment Programme at all of our 260 maintained schools at a total investment of £86m including improvements at Holly Primary and Intake Farm Primary and Nursery School.