Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Austin raises parents' concerns on school places

Dudley MP Ian Austin has raised local parents’ concerns about school places with Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Speaking at an Urgent Question on the issue of School Places yesterday, Austin called on the Education Secretary to take action to provide more school places at oversubscribed and well-performing schools.

Austin spoke out after being contacted by frustrated parents from Dudley whose children have been refused places at their first choice schools because they are full.

They can’t afford to provide the facilities needed to meet demand and accommodate more pupils. He suggests that popular, well-run and financially-sound schools that are consistently over-subscribed should be able to borrow the money they need to provide the extra classrooms and pay off the loans with the extra funding they would then receive from taking on more pupils.

Education Secretary Michael Gove replied by saying that he had asked officials to look at Austin’s proposal and invited him to meetings to discuss the idea.

Ian Austin said:

“Parents in Dudley are spending this week in appeals once again because their children have been allocated places in schools they do not want to send them to.

“Why should pupils be denied places in popular and successful schools because those schools just do not have the space needed to accommodate them? Why will the Secretary of State not promote competition and expand the market by enabling well-run, oversubscribed, financially sound schools to borrow the resources needed to provide those extra facilities and be able to pay them back with the revenue the extra pupils would bring?”

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said:

“The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. I read with interest and appreciation the article he wrote in The Independent on Sunday outlining a similar case, and I have asked officials in the Department to see what we can do to give effect to his suggestion. If he would like to come to the Department and share his thinking with officials, I shall be delighted to see what we can do to take this forward.”

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