Did Labour cut the number of school places and funding for new ones?

13 May 2014

After a reported Coalition row over funding for school places, Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove answered urgent parliamentary questions on the issue yesterday.

Mr Gove said that the Labour party were responsible for a shortage; he said they had cut the number of places in primary schools by 200,000 between 2003 and 2010 and the funding for new school places by £150 million between 2004 and 2009.

It's correct to say the number of primary places fell from 2003-2010. But as we covered yesterday, a factor in this was that the number of school places available in that period exceeded the number of pupils looking to fill them. The figures come from a National Audit Office (NAO) report, which said that at the time:

"…the challenge facing the Department and local authorities was to remove excess capacity. Consequently, the number of primary places fell by almost 207,000 (5 per cent) between 2003/04 and 2009/10. The challenge now is making sure there are sufficient places."

The same report also provides data on the funding for school places during 2004-2009, and shows that it rose. This is based on data submitted to the NAO by the Department for Education.

An earlier dataset released to parliament in 2011 shows a fall from £566 in 2004/05 to £419 to 2009/10, supporting Mr Gove's claim that funding fell by £150 million across the period. We've contacted the department for clarification and will post an update when we have it.

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