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School Buildings

Volume 597: debated on Monday 15 June 2015

In the last Parliament, we protected the schools budget, gave more then £5 billion to tackle Labour’s school places crisis and spent £18 billion on school buildings—more than Labour spent in their first two terms combined. In this Parliament, we will again protect the schools budget, and we plan to invest a further £19 billion on school buildings, of which £7 billion will be spent on school places.

Colne Park high school is in desperate need of funds to improve the state of its building, but it is receiving inadequate support from the local county council. Will my hon. Friend consider meeting the school’s leadership team to help to find a way forward?

I appreciate that the school will be disappointed that its application to the second phase of the Priority School Building programme was unsuccessful. The programme was highly over-subscribed, and we had to prioritise the buildings in the worst condition. However, Lancashire’s indicative allocation to maintain and improve its schools is £34 million for 2015-18, and I expect it to consider carefully the needs of all schools in its area. I will do what I can to support my hon. Friend with that.

May I congratulate the Minister on his reappointment? I remind him that this is not just investment in buildings, but the facilities around buildings. Last Friday, I accepted a petition from 300 parents of the Krishna Avanti school and St Paul’s Catholic school about the lack of crossing facilities in Spencefield Lane. Can we look at that as part of the budget?

The budget is not just for school buildings. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, it is also for improving the facilities of school buildings. If there is a specific issue in his constituency that has not been dealt with, he can by all means write to me and I will look at it.

I have been campaigning with a secondary school in my constituency, King’s Oak academy, as part of its bid for the Priority School Building fund. Unfortunately, the school was unsuccessful in relation to the last tranche of that fund. Will the Minister update the House on what future opportunities there will be for schools that were unsuccessful in the last round to re-bid for this funding?

I know that the Secretary of State visited the school in question and recognised its brilliant leadership. Of course, as we go through the spending review and set the budgets for this Parliament, there will be other opportunities to look at the Priority School Building programme.

At the start of the last Parliament, the Government set out their plans for the Priority School Building programme for 537 schools. To date, 25 have been completed. Would the Minister describe his Department’s performance as failing or just coasting?

I will describe the Government’s performance as getting great value for money: the build cost for a number of schools was halved during the course of the last Parliament. We will make announcements this autumn about how Priority School Building programme 2 will be rolled out.