Cash for schools gets mixed reaction

The Chancellor's plans to pump �1.2bn into schools over the course of this parliament were last night welcomed – although critics questioned whether the money was being aimed at the right areas.

George Osborne will set aside �600m to fund another 100 free schools across the country – including a number of specialist maths free schools for 16 to 18-year-olds.

The announcement is good news for groups in Norfolk thinking about setting up one of the new-style schools.

Norwich-based Future Projects is considering applying to create a Future Education free school to overcome county council funding cuts which could force the school, which caters for challenging youngsters, to close.

The organisation's director Dawn Jackson last night said: 'I think it's a fantastic influx of funding for new free schools.'

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But critics have expressed dismay at the government's decision to target the much-needed money at the controversial new-style schools rather than using it to improve the existing provision.

Andrew McCandlish, Norfolk branch secretary for the ATL union, said: 'I would welcome any extra spending in education providing it is new money and isn't just being recycled. But I would like to see it put into the current provision within the maintained sector.'

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A further �600m will be spent helping local authorities meet demand for extra school places as the number of primary school-aged children increases over the next few years. Mr Osborne said the funding would be target at those areas with the 'greatest basic need'.

Norfolk County Council said it was waiting to hear exactly how the money would be allocated but was confident this county would benefit.

A spokesman said: 'We are hopeful that some of this money will end up in Norfolk because we certainly do have demographic pressures to deal with. We expect to hear in the next few weeks an authority by authority breakdown of how the cash will be distributed, but any extra funding for Norfolk is clearly welcome.

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