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Derbyshire LEA

Volume 456: debated on Thursday 8 February 2007

7. What assessment he has made of the effect of the new rules for competitive tendering for new schools on the incentive for the local education authority in Derbyshire to consider merging existing schools. (119651)

School place planning is the statutory responsibility of the local authority. Competitions will normally be held whenever proposals are required for a new or replacement school. School amalgamations can be effected in different ways and it is up to the local authority to act in accordance with local circumstances.

Derbyshire county council, which was recently audited as excellent again, has held an extensive consultation with the community of Clay Cross, where three schools are to be replaced by one brand new, state of the art primary school. From the consultation it was clear that Clay Cross mums and dads want the new school to be run by Derbyshire county council, but that that decision will now be taken by the schools adjudicator. Can my hon. Friend explain what account is taken of the wishes of the community when the adjudicator makes his or her decision on who is to run the new school?

As ever, my hon. Friend is an excellent advocate for the mums and dads of Clay Cross. She is right to say that Labour Derbyshire is an excellent local authority. It is fulfilling its statutory duty to carry out an extensive public consultation on the proposals for new schools. The decision-maker’s guidance from the Secretary of State, which informs the work of the adjudicator, requires him to take account of the views expressed in the consultation by parents and the local community.