THREE Newquay schools have been given permission to find their own contractors to build much-needed classrooms in a move that could save the county thousands of pounds.
St Columb Minor Academy, The Bishops' School and Indian Queens School are three of those in line to receive Targeted Basic Needs (TBN) cash to meet the growing demand for primary school places.
Cornwall Council originally believed it had secured £18.8 million for the expansion programme – but in October was told this had been slashed to £7.8 million.
Newquay MP Stephen Gilbert asked Schools Minister David Laws to allow schools to make the money stretch by choosing their own contractors rather than Cornwall Council's preferred company.
Now Mr Laws has written to all the Cornish schools set to benefit from the funding, and to Cornwall Council, announcing that the Department for Education will permit this, with Cornwall Council remaining "ultimately responsible".
Mr Gilbert said: "I'm glad the minister has today clarified the position of the Department for Education.
"We all want to see school places delivered in areas of greatest need and to see fantastic schools expand. If schools can deliver these places on budget and on time then local government should get out of the way and let them do so."
Andrew Wallis, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for children and young people, said whoever carried out the work, Cornwall Council would remain accountable for the overall quality and safety of the schemes.
"Cornwall Council is committed to delivering the best possible value for money for council taxpayers and has been working with the schools to provide the additional 840 school places needed within the available funding from the Government.
"As previously stated, the council originally bid for sufficient funding to provide 840 new places at 8 schools. The Government awarded the council £7.8 million to deliver these 840 places, in line with its national funding formula.
"The authority is currently carrying out detailed feasibility studies for each of the eight schemes in order to confirm what the potential funding shortfall is likely to be.
"The results of these feasibility studies will be available in January 2014, when further detailed discussions will be held with each of the 8 schools."
Jo Osborne, head of The Bishops' School, said: "At the moment the local authority's undertaking a feasibility study with our school to see if it's possible to expand with the funds that are available.
"We continue to work with the local authority."