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House of Commons Hansard
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24 June 2019
Volume 662
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5. What steps his Department is taking to increase the number of good school places in England. [911508]

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I join colleagues from across the House in congratulating you on your decade, Mr Speaker. On the subject of nice round numbers, we are on track to create 1 million new places in schools this decade, primarily through building free schools and encouraging existing high-performing schools to expand.

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Does my right hon. Friend agree that continual investment in schools in Morecambe and Lunesdale has directly resulted in improvements in education standards?

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My hon. Friend has been a strong and consistent champion for his constituents and their education. Lancashire has been allocated £140 million over 2011 to 2021. In his constituency of Morecambe and Lunesdale, the proportion of schools rated good or outstanding has increased from 64% to 86%.

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Lots of things make a school good. A headteacher who I met yesterday in my constituency had written to the Department for Education for a specific answer to a question. He did not feel that he had had that answer, so I am going to ask it today; I would appreciate a specific answer. What is a teacher to say to a child who asks, “Is it okay to be gay?”

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They should say yes.

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It is very welcome that significantly more children are taught in good and outstanding schools in Northamptonshire now than in 2010. The enormous housing growth in Corby and East Northamptonshire is creating real demand for those places. Will my right hon. Friend keep banging the drum for more funding from the Treasury for school places?

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Yes, indeed. We work with local authorities to make sure that we have up-to-date assessments and projections of the need for school places, and we fund to those projections to make sure that there is the right number of places. We are absolutely focused on making sure that we are doing that by expanding existing good and outstanding schools and putting in good new provision, which also improves diversity and choice.

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Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating Johanne Clifton, the executive principal of Billesley Primary School, and its staff and pupils on achieving an outstanding rating in all Ofsted categories? This was previously a school that was in difficulty, and it is in a very disadvantaged part of my constituency. Does he realise, however, that schools like this need adequate resources in order to maintain commitment and achievement? Even a school like this is struggling financially at the moment.

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I do recognise, of course, that that school and all schools need the right resources. I am also very happy to join the hon. Gentleman in his congratulation and commendation of Ms Clifton and all the staff, pupils and parents at the school.