COMMENT: Primary pupils in jeopardy as expansion plan is left in doubt

Oxford Mail: COMMENT: Primary pupils in jeopardy as expansion plan is left in doubt COMMENT: Primary pupils in jeopardy as expansion plan is left in doubt

THE collapse in expected funding to expand our primary schools is deeply worrying, and not just for parents of toddlers.

As we report today, Oxfordshire County Council’s £37.5m plan to expand our primary schools over a four-year period has been hit by a wholesale slashing in the money the Government is promising for years three and four.

On the face of it, it leaves the whole plan in tatters, unless one of those magic funding silver bullets can be found.

The Government is the easiest one to paint as the dastardly pantomime villain in all this – cutting the cash that we desperately need.

And let’s be frank about this: we do desperately need to expand our schools. Even before you factor in the increase in the number of school age children over the next few years, our schools were over-subscribed and in need of expansion.

But there is also the problem of starting a four-year plan relying on £37.5m in Government money without the cheque signed, sealed and delivered for the whole project, especially during a period of considerable public sector funding uncertainty.

Long-term infrastructure planning involving tens of millions of pounds is not as black and white as one organisation being right and the other being wrong.

However, it needs sorting.

The Government needs to understand just turning the money tap to a trickle is not an option, our MPs need to start lobbying strongly, and the council has to start revisiting its plans, otherwise our schools will be in real trouble.

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