MILLIONS of pounds of taxpayer’s money is being wasted on empty classrooms across Warwickshire, it has been claimed.
Figures seen by the Observer reveal Warwickshire County Council spent £35 million between 2009-13 to allow for 449 extra admissions across 26 primary and secondary schools.
But in the first year they were available, 186 places – 41 per cent of the total provided – were not filled.
At six schools, including Shipston Primary and Emscote Infant in Warwick, none of the new places were taken up.
A concerned reader, who did not want to be named, contacted the Observer having been astonished by the figures.
They said: “Even this one year analysis shows that millions have already been wasted.
“It seems the population is growing so these schools might start to increase their numbers but from the council’s point of view this seems more by luck than judgement. The money spent could have accrued interest rather than been invested in empty classrooms.
“As a local taxpayer, I am aware of services that are due to be cut and I know that some local families have been unable to get places at local schools, so it is somewhat galling that money is being wasted like this.
“I appreciate that the council might say the places will be needed in time but this frankly smacks of bad planning and is no way a good use of limited resources.”
Other schools at which new places were not immediately filled include Stratford High, Ettington Primary and Bubrooke Primary in Hampton Magna.
Education chiefs at Warwickshire County Council explained there were several reasons why classrooms may not always be full.
A spokesman said it was more cost-effective to expand schools to meet the expected demand over several years and schools would not incur revenue costs, such as paying for teachers, where places were not filled.
They added the council planned, where possible, for full classes of 30 to assist teachers and this means some schools may have a few vacant places in the first year of operation.
It was also explained that although it is the council’s duty to provide sufficient places, individual schools can expand without its permission, leading to over-provision in some areas.