Estimates from County Council officers announced today indicate a potential £13m windfall for Cheltenham schools to deliver permanent expansion in coming years. The money will come from government Basic Needs funding and from developer contributions. In the light of this, and expected and expected future growth of pupil numbers, the County Council has been working with local schools for some time to make sure the number of places meets demand. Councillors are keen to support academies like Balcarras to look at a permanent expansion in places. The council has no powers to direct academies to change size, but, given the increase in pupil numbers and available funding, is working to encourage them to make more space available.
Council Leader Mark Hawthorne and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Paul Mclain, have both discussed the issue with Cheltenham's Conservative Parliamentary candidate Alex Chalk in recent weeks.
Cllr Paul Mclain, commented: "As a result of changes the coalition implemented, Gloucestershire County Council no longer has the power to direct academies like Balcarras to increase in numbers. I want to work with Cheltenham schools to make sure they can put this extra funding to good use in delivering a permanent expansion in the number of school places in the town. Any outstanding academy can expand without any input from us, as Pates have done. Working together with all Cheltenham schools, we can deliver the permanent places we need in our town. The County Council will make money available early to support permanent expansions if that's what's needed."
Alex Chalk, commented: "I'm glad that the County Council has listened to concerns from me and from a lot of other Cheltenham parents. This extra funding is good news for Cheltenham schools - as is the council's commitment to release money early if that's what's needed."