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Priority School Building Programme

Volume 589: debated on Monday 1 December 2014

11. When she plans to announce the outcome of the next phase of the Priority School Building programme. (906340)

13. When she plans to announce the successful applicants for the Priority School Building programme 2. (906342)

Our Department is in the process of analysing the expressions of interest for the next phase of the Priority School Building programme, and we expect to announce successful schools in January.

I draw to my right hon. Friend’s attention the excellent applications from Humphry Davy school and Helston community college in my constituency. The successful applicants will be anxious to know how quickly they can crack on with their rebuilding projects and by what date they will need to complete them. Will the Minister elaborate on that?

My hon. Friend is a great champion of all the schools in his constituency and has been lobbying very hard indeed, as I am well aware, for the two schools that he names. I can assure him that we are processing these bids as rapidly as possible and that we will announce the successful schools in January. That will allow the project to move ahead as soon as possible.

The previous Secretary of State, when he visited Todmorden and Calder high schools in the Calder Valley, said that they were among the worst that he had seen in England, but they never qualified for rebuilding under Building Schools for the Future because they attained too highly and did not have deprivation. Can the Minister confirm that under the Priority School Building programme, the criteria of attainment and deprivation have been scrapped and that schools that are dilapidated stand a chance of being rebuilt?

I can confirm that. It is right that such a programme should look at the condition of all schools and prioritise those that are in most need of help, rather than targeting either attainment or deprivation. I am aware that there are a number of bids from schools in my hon. Friend’s constituency. We will look at those closely and announce the results in January.

Will the Minister give a higher priority to schools in areas where the number of pupils is increasing hugely year on year? In our areas, the amount of money available to spend per pupil is squeezed down because the numbers are counted in October one year, but the number of pupils in the following 12 months increases exponentially.

I think I have good news for the hon. Lady, because not only have this Government been considerably more generous than our predecessors in the allocation of basic need funding for our school system, but we are now allocating basic need funding for new school places for three years. In January, we will make another announcement of funding for basic need for 2017-18.