HAMPSHIRE schools bosses are making one of their largest investments in schools building in recent years.

A £149 million programme is proposed, as part of Hampshire County Council’s Children’s Services capital 2014-17.

Following years of criticism that not enough schools are being built to match soaring demand, particularly in Winchester, it aims to ensure there is a school place for every child in Hampshire.

The council says it will also provide a big boost for the economy through jobs and materials in the construction industry.

The proposals were considered, by the Children and Young People Select Committee before the Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services made the recommendations to the Leader and Cabinet last Wednesday. Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “This is a further substantial programme of investment that is being proposed and, if agreed, will be extremely good news for schools and children in Hampshire.

“We are acutely aware of the increasing need for additional primary school places due tp the rising birth rate and more families moving in to the county, attracted by the quality of education in Hampshire. Capital investment is essential if we are to meet this need and the local authority capital grants announced by the Secretary of State for Education are welcomed.”

Peter Edgar, Executive Member for Education, added: “Our objective is to deliver quality education locally near to where children live and where parents want them to go to school.

Cllr Edgar added: “We have already provided more than 900 additional new places at schools including: Pilgrims Cross in Andover; Cornerstone at Whiteley; Bramley Church of England Primary School in Tadley; and Cupernham Infant and Junior School in Romsey; but we know that up to 8,000 places are needed over the next few years.

The total capital programme of over £237million, includes funding proposals to ensure that existing school buildings are maintained in good condition together with other improvements on school sites and better provision for pupils with special educational needs.

Investment is also proposed to upgrade school kitchen and dining facilities to accommodate an increased take up of school meals, following the Government’s initiative to provide free school meals for all children in their first three years of school.