WEST Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has welcomed the announcement of extra Government education cash for the district.

He said it should help accelerate the improvement in education standards that had been achieved over the last four to five years.

Ministers have announced that West Somerset is to become a priority Education Investment Area under terms laid out in the schools White Paper.

It will be one of the locations favoured for new six-form free schools and will receive additional funding over and above that already offered to EIAs.

It means it will qualify for a share of a £42million pot of extra cash over the next three years.

The designation will also bring enhanced support for improving digital connectivity in schools and access to a development programme for aspiring academy trust leaders.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said he was delighted the area’s repeated requests for additional support had been listened to.

“Even though a share of a £42million pot – and we have no idea yet of the exact amount this will deliver – does not seem that exciting, the important thing is that we have got West Somerset’s name on the board, and there it will stay,” he said.

Mr Liddell-Grainger has long campaigned for better educational provision in an area where students face long journey times to school and to which many skilled teaching staff have been reluctant to move because of its remoteness.

He added: “Getting the Government to recognise and accept that we have special local problems has been a real team effort and I congratulate local schools on putting forward such a strong case for additional funds.

“West Somerset desperately needs levelling up in terms of the education it can provide for local young people and I see in this announcement the start of that very process.”