UKIP Education Spokesman David Kurten AM, "It is good to hear that the Chancellor Philip Hammond has followed where UKIP have been leading and is announcing 500 new schools to be opened by 2020, which is exactly what I said at the UKIP party conference in Bolton on 17th February.
"It is vital that at least half of the new schools are grammar schools. The government must ensure that they are distributed all over the country, so that every town and city has a grammar school and all children have the opportunity of a highly academic education if it suits them.
"The problem with opening free schools are that private investors can cherry pick locations, and the new schools may be concentrated in areas which already have enough school places. There must be some central planning of the locations of the new schools otherwise towns and cities which desperately need grammar schools like Blackpool, Hull and Middlesborough may lose out.
"If the government is serious about investing in the future of our young people they will need to invest in it properly. The Chancellor’s £320 million of funding is more of a whimper than a bang; it will only partly pay for 70,000 new school places by 2025.
"There is currently a demographic bulge in the 5 – 9 age range, which will move up into secondary schools by 2024. If the government doesn’t plan for this then secondary schools will become hideously overcrowded starting in 2019. A capital investment program of £10 billion over the next 7 years is needed to create 500,000 new secondary school places. This is peanuts compared to the madly wasteful £100 billion HS2, and will benefit the whole country rather than just big construction companies.
"Tomorrow’s budget is a chance for the government to make a radical investment in the future; it must not just be smoke and mirrors."