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School Places: Buckinghamshire

Volume 605: debated on Monday 25 January 2016

Buckinghamshire received £34 million between 2011 and 2015 to create new school places, and it has been allocated a further £27 million for the places that will be required by 2018. That support helped to create more than 5,000 new school places between 2010 and 2014. Many more have been delivered since then or are in the pipeline. In addition, as my right hon. Friend will know, the Sir Thomas Fremantle Secondary School opened in September 2013 through the free schools programme and will provide 420 places when at full capacity.

Notwithstanding that answer from the Minister, we know that the demand for schools in Buckinghamshire continues to grow. The local government settlement for the area is so poor that the county council has warned that it cannot resource the housing growth plans and provide the key infrastructure that is required for new schools and additional places. What support can he give to the Buckinghamshire MPs who have been campaigning together at the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to ensure that proper support is given to our county council so that Buckinghamshire school children do not lose out?

We are committed to making school funding fairer. In 2015-16, we have made an extra £390 million available to the 69 worst funded local authorities. Buckinghamshire has received an additional £18 million and it will continue to receive that additional funding, as we have included it in the baseline. In future years, we will ensure that funding is fairly matched to need by introducing a national funding formula for schools, as well as for high needs and early years. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will bring forward and consult on our proposals this year.

With 50,000 new houses expected in Buckinghamshire over the next 15 years, how will the Government ensure that the school places are established in the right locations?

That is a matter for the local authority. We are allocating sufficient funding to the authority to ensure that there are sufficient school places. Where there is development, we expect there to be a contribution from the developers.