Government accused of 'primary school places crisis'
Labour has published figures suggesting that numbers of primary pupils in September will outstrip the places currently available in more than a quarter of council areas in England, but the DfE dismissed the figures as bogus.
In a political row over school places, Labour says that analysis of official figures shows that thousands of children will not be able to get a place at primary school in September, while the Department for Education has dismissed the claims as "bogus."
These figures are bogus. They are based on a completely false comparison and would only be true if local authorities had taken no action to create places since 2012/13, despite the huge amounts of money we have given them.
We are giving councils £5 billion to spend on new school places over this Parliament - double the amount allocated by the previous government over an equivalent period.
This funding has already led to the creation of 260,000 new school places, all of which are in areas where there is a shortage of places. All councils should now have plans in place to meet the need for this September and we will hold to account any that fails to do so.
In addition we have also confirmed a further £2 billion for basic need up to 2017. Investment in free schools is on top of this funding, and in fact seven in 10 free school places are in areas of basic need.
Labour argues that money has been diverted away from areas threatened with school place shortages by the Government's focus on the free school programme.
This follows a National Audit Office report that found £241 million of the £950 million projected capital spend on mainstream free schools was in "districts with no forecast need for extra school places".
David Cameron is failing in his most important duty to children in this country - to ensure every child has a place at a good local school.
He has created a crisis in school places, ignoring the warnings and diverting millions of pounds away from children in areas where there are shortages of places.
This is damaging standards in our schools, with class sizes soaring, more temporary and unsuitable classrooms and children forced to travel further and further to get to school.
– Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt
The Department for Education dismissed Labour's published analysis of upcoming primary school places as "bogus."
Figures released by Labour today suggest that the numbers of primary pupils due to start in September will outstrip the places currently available in more than a quarter of council areas in England.
Freedom of information responses from 131 local authorities showed that 32 - a quarter of the total - believe that Government funding for additional primary places is insufficient to meet demand for 2015/16.
Thirty three local authorities thought Department for Education cost assumptions for new places were not "realistic".
Labour accused the Government of creating a "crisis in school places" but the DfE dismissed the figures as "bogus", arguing that they did not take into account new places created since 2012/13 - the latest year for which figures are available.