Skip to main content

Capital Investment (Schools)

Volume 541: debated on Monday 27 February 2012

For the current spending review period, we have a total capital budget of £17.1 billion. In December I announced capital for 2012-13, including £11 million for schools in Cornwall to provide new places and repair buildings.

Camborne Science and International Academy, which the Secretary of State will recall visiting last summer, has applied for permission to build some new science laboratories under the priority schools building programme. That will cost a fraction of the amount that was originally required under the Building Schools for the Future programme. Does my right hon. Friend agree that when schools have sharpened their pencils and identified savings in that way, they should be given some credit when their applications are assessed?

That is a very deft case, very well put by my hon. Friend. I am well aware that, for a variety of reasons, a number of schools in Cornwall have missed out on the allocation of capital in the past. One of the things that I have learnt in this job is that sometimes when we publish lists of school buildings it is important to wait a wee while just to make sure that they are right.

Two outstanding schools in my constituency, The Bankfield and The Heath, are waiting for a decision on their capital bid applications, but an application has also been made for funds for a free school. Does the Secretary of State think that capital bids for existing schools that are in desperate need of cash should be given priority, or that a free school should be given priority?

It is the judgment of Solomon, is it not? We must ensure that decaying fabric is repaired, but we must also provide high-quality school places. It is not enough simply to invest in existing schools which may or may not be providing high-quality education; it is also critical that we provide a gateway for people who are going to raise the quality of state education through innovative new ways of helping children to do better.