Stoke-on-Trent South MP Rob Flello quizzed Prime Minister David Cameron on whether Stoke-on-Trent will receive enough Building Schools for the Future funding to complete the construction of the planned secondary schools.
Mr Flello took the opportunity during yesterday’s [Wednesday] Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.
The Prime Minister will be aware that by 7 July the Education Secretary would have already understood the financial situation and the “state of the books”, as the Prime Minister is so keen to keep stating, so why on 7 July, in this House, did the Education Secretary say:
“One announcement that I was able to make on Monday was that Stoke-on-Trent, as a local authority that has reached financial close, will see all the schools under Building Schools for the Future rebuilt”
Is there some confusion between the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary?
The Prime Minister was in no mood to reassure the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South.
We were left a complete mess in terms of Building Schools for the Future. Here was a programme that took up three years and hundreds of millions of pounds before a single brick was laid. The cost of building those schools was twice what it should have been, so we have scrapped that programme and made available £15 billion for the next four years. That means that school building will be higher under this Government than it was under the Labour Government starting in 1997.
The recent announcement by Michael Gove that those school building schemes spared, are now facing cuts in funding of 40%, despite their being given the green light when he reduced Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in July.
This will effect some 600 and will realise potential savings of £6bn. The announcement now throws the building of the so called “sample schools” specifically given the thumbs up by the Department for Education back in August.
Just how this latest announcement will impact on Stoke-on-Trent remains unclear.
It may well throw the future of the Discovery Academy into doubt.
The controversial school was to be sited on the Willfield Community Centre location.
The Community Schools Action Group, who are campaigning for a school to be retained on the Mitchell High School site, will be watching developments very closely indeed.
Joan Walley MP for Stoke-on-Trent North has also raised the issue about BSF funding in Parliament today.
She called for an urgent debate on the issue and was met with a noncommittal response.