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Priority School Building Programme

Volume 616: debated on Tuesday 25 October 2016

5. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on when the next phase of funding will be available for the priority school building programme. (906786)

The £4.4 billion priority school building programme was established to rebuild or refurbish those school buildings in the very worst condition across the country. The programme’s second phase was announced in May 2014 and feasibility studies are now being carried out. In addition, we are allocating £4.2 billion across 2015 to 2018 to schools, local authorities, academy trusts and voluntary aided partnerships to maintain and improve their schools.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. For many years now, Todmorden High School in Calder Valley has been the top priority for a rebuild. It is currently taking a good chunk of maintenance money from other schools just to stay open. Will my right hon. Friend look at this carefully, so that we can finally give the pupils of Todmorden high school the school they deserve?

I understand my hon. Friend’s disappointment, and that of his constituents, that Todmorden was not successful in its application to the priority school building programme. We need to prioritise schools with blocks in the very worst condition. I understand that Todmorden’s buildings are now receiving some investment through the local authority, which will have competing priorities for capital resources, but I am sure my hon. Friend will continue to make the case for the school.

Given the £180 million overrun on phase one, will the Government be tempted to backfill with second-rate private finance initiative buildings? What role will PFI have in the programme?

Let me address our record. We have spent £18 billion since 2010 on the school estate and we are committed to a further £23 billion so that pupils can be taught in facilities that are fit for the 21st century. We of course want to ensure that that is funded in the most appropriate, value for money and sustainable way.