School places

The row about primary school places in Bristol continues…. According to the Evening Post the local Tories and Lib Dems have fallen out about it, with the Tories describing it as “a fiasco” and “a woeful failure to plan”.

There was an Urgent Question in the Commons today about the double-funding of Academies, with a blistering performance by Andy Burnham. Sadly Gove was up in Birmingham doing a PR stunt, so it fell to his understudy Nick Gibb to respond. Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West,  got up and asked a “isn’t this all Labour’s fault?” question. I asked this….

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): Turning underperforming schools into academies in Bristol was, for the most part, a great success. Free schools, however, are not needed and, for the most part, not wanted there. When are the Government going to get their priorities right, get a grip on their finances and help Bristol to address the real problem that it is facing at the moment—namely, the chronic under-provision of primary school places?

Mr Gibb: The hon. Lady seems to be contradicting herself. There is a shortage of primary school places, yet she says that there is no need for the free school programme, which could be used to create more school places. We want not only more school places but more high-quality school places, and that is what the free school programme, in particular, is designed to achieve.

So I will now be tabling a parliamentary question asking how many primary school places are being created in free schools in Bristol? (The answer is there will be two primary reception classes at St Ursula’s from September, and a new secondary free school that we don’t need).

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