EXPLODING population figures in Essex mean 5,000 extra school places are needed.

2,000 have already been created with another 3,000 still required.

It will cost an estimated £167m during the next five years to expand existing schools or build new ones.

More than 80 per cent of the money will be spent in the next three years as most schools are already full and many have already been extended.

Discussions are still taking place to work out which schools will be expanded or where the new ones will be but more are needed in Colchester than anywhere else.

Essex County Council refused to say which schools they are speaking to.

During 2015/16 about £55million needs to be spent on new school places.

Ray Gooding, cabinet member for education, said: “This funding will allow us to create much needed school places in specific areas of need.

“It is well documented in certain areas of the county we need to create additional places due to population increases.

“We have worked hard over a number of years to create additional places and are on track to create some 900 new reception places for September 2015.”

The council is currently focusing on making more places available in schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted but has not ruled out expanding others as well.

Consultations are expected to start very shortly.