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Building Schools for the Future

Volume 507: debated on Monday 8 March 2010

Birmingham is in waves 2 and 5. Ten schools are being redeveloped, and it is planned to redevelop a further 20. The first phase of projects reached financial close in August 2009. The first schools will open in January 2011. The authority is seeking approval from Partnerships for Schools for the remaining phase 1 schools, and it is preparing the strategy for change and outline business case for phase 2. Partnerships for Schools is assessing the readiness to deliver for phase 3. Today the Secretary of State has announced the next six local authorities, with the next three in line.

Will my hon. Friend clarify Birmingham’s current position? Although I am aware that it has benefited from BSF investment in the earlier waves, I am sure that he will share my disappointment that the majority of Birmingham secondary schools still have no idea when they will be refurbished or rebuilt under the BSF programme. Will he clarify whether today’s announcement shows that capital investment for Birmingham schools is unavailable, or whether it shows that the local authority has not got its act together to submit its case? Either way, will he meet me to discuss the situation?

Before we can agree a programme for a local authority, that authority has to demonstrate its readiness to deliver. There is a proper set of criteria that local authorities have to abide by, as well as a proper assessment process, which is rigorously assessed by Partnerships for Schools, the Government office and our officials, and on the basis of the information provided, so that judgments can be made about which authorities are most ready to deliver. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made a statement today about the six authorities currently most ready to deliver, and indicated which three are, as it were, next on the runway. Birmingham is one of those three, but it is for the local authority to sort out the remaining issues before we can finally get that agreed.