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Millions on tap for Wales

Popular Welsh schools are to get an extra Pounds 4 million to finance expansion under plans revealed by the Welsh Office this week.

The extra cash is being made available to schools where high parental demand has led to children being turned away. The initiative was launched last year by the former Welsh Secretary John Redwood as an alternative to the grant-maintained schools programme.

So far seven schools - three in Clwyd and one each in Dyfed, Gwent, Gwynedd and South Glamorgan - have received the go-ahead for capital building projects worth Pounds 7.75m, covering schemes which will provide an additional 872 places. Another Pounds 14m for 12 other schools is in the pipeline, completing the first phase of the Popular Schools Initiative.

The biggest PSI winner is Prestatyn High School, Clwyd, where building will provide an extra 173 places at a cost of Pounds 2m.

The announcement of more PSI money raised the temperature in Powys, the only local education authority to emerge intact from the reorganisation. Faced with a Pounds 900,000 cut in the education budget, more than 100 teachers and parents staged an overnight vigil outside the county council's headquarters in Llandrindod Wells at the weekend.

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