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Primary School Places

Volume 561: debated on Monday 22 April 2013

13. What recent assessment he has made of the availability of primary school places; and if he will make a statement. (152086)

We anticipate that 382,000 new primary places and 35,000 new secondary places will be needed over this Parliament. The latest data show that new places are being created at a good rate and that local authorities are keeping up with demand.

Record numbers of children will be taught in class sizes of 31 or more from September, following the coalition’s decision to ditch Labour’s class size limits. The Lib Dem spokesperson for children’s services in Newcastle said in The Guardian that

“schools should be allowed to raise the number of pupils in each class as they saw fit.”

Are we going to see a return to the bad old days of overcrowded classrooms under this Tory-Lib Dem Government?

We have not ditched the limit. We have almost tripled the investment in basic need compared with 2008-09, when the hon. Lady’s party was in power.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that between now and 2015, the Government will spend £5 billion on new school places, which is twice as much as was spent by the Labour party during a similar time frame, and that £1 billion of that is earmarked for areas that are under the greatest pressure?

I can confirm exactly that. I can confirm also that we would not have had to find that amount of capital had the Labour party not ignored the advice of the Office for National Statistics in 2003-04 about future trends in primary numbers.