Brent is given �30million to tackle shortage of primary school places

Much needed funds will see the expansion of four primary schools in the borough

Brent has benefited from bumper funding set to ease the strain on severe school place shortages in the borough.

More than �30m has been awarded to the borough by the Department for Education (DoE), more than anywhere else in the country.

The funding, which Brent Council say they have been ‘lobbying hard’ for, will be used to expand four primary schools as the local authority looks to help more than 600 children in the borough currently on the waiting list.

A similar grant of �25m was handed to the borough last year, meaning a total of �54m has been made available for the cause.

Council proposals to expand Barham, Fryent, Mitchell Brook and St Robert Southwell Primary schools will be heard at an executive meeting next Monday (23).

In addition, high quality temporary classrooms will be built at the schools to help children into school by the autumn before the expansions are completed next year.

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Cllr Mary Arnold, lead member for children and families at Brent Council, said they had taken the issue ‘very seriously’.

She said: “We have been lobbying hard for funding to increase our school capacity so we are pleased we are now being listened to.

“We have been doing everything we can to create more places for Brent children at our popular local schools and we can now start to address the problem further.”

Previously the Times reported that the labour run authority in Brent could be forced to set up the Tory initiative of Free Schools to ease the shortage.

Introduced by Michael Gove, education secretary, Free Schools can be set up by community members and private firms and operate separately from the local authority.

However, they attract controversy as campaigners claim money is taken away from other schools.

An extra �600m will be allocated to Free Schools in the autumn but Cllr Arnold said the council would need to think ‘very carefully’ before deciding what to do.

She said: “The free schools funding operates separately, we would need to look very carefully at any potential partners before rushing into a decision about them.

“Our main focus now will be on getting as many of our children into school as possible.”

Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrats MP for Brent East and minister for childrens and families, said: “The �54.8 million award is fantastic news for the people of Brent.

“Children in Brent deserve an excellent education, and with the Liberal Democrats in government this much needed funding is at last being provided.”