Secondary School Provision: Lyde Green

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:32 pm on 23rd September 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 8:32 pm, 23rd September 2020

I congratulate my right hon. Friend Chris Skidmore on securing the debate. I listened carefully to his speech, and I know how instrumental he has been in securing new schools for his constituency and for parents in his area. I know at first hand how committed he is to ensuring that standards of education in schools in his constituency are high. I pay tribute to him for his work over many years in developing education policy, most recently in his role as Universities Minister.

As my right hon. Friend has explained, Lyde Green has grown significantly over the last five years, with developments that are to include 2,500 new homes, a large science park, and other business and industrial developments. Although there is an open primary school in Lyde Green—thanks to my right hon. Friend—there is currently no secondary school. As he is aware, given the changing demographics, the need for a new secondary school is now under consideration.

Since 2010, the Government have worked hard to drive up academic standards. Our aim has been to ensure that every state school is a good school, teaching a rigorous and broad curriculum, with world-class qualifications and high standards of behaviour. During that time we have seen standards rise. As at March 2019, 86% of schools were graded good or outstanding by Ofsted, compared with 68% in 2010. Ensuring high-quality education in south Gloucestershire is a priority for my right hon. Friend, as it is for the Government. Primary school results across the local authority are good, with over 84% of primary schools having been as assessed by Ofsted as either good or outstanding. Of the 17 secondary school in south Gloucestershire, eight are graded by Ofsted as good.

Since 2010, the number of academies nationally has grown from 200 to over 8,500, including free schools, and four out of 10 state-funded primary and secondary schools are now part of an academy trust. When the opportunity for schools to become academies arose, 13 out of 15 south Gloucestershire secondary schools took the opportunity to convert. With a further conversion planned in January and two new secondary free schools successfully opened in recent years, there has been a significant change in the education landscape.

It is clear that the presence of strong multi-academy trusts is starting to have an impact in south Gloucestershire. The six previously inadequate secondary schools that are now sponsored are beginning to show improvements. For example, Greenshaw Learning Trust was introduced into the area and sponsored Yate Academy in September 2017, and it has demonstrated rapid impact. The Progress 8 score has moved from minus 0.48 in 2017 to plus one in 2019, which means that it is well above the national average in terms of the progress that its pupils make. Hanham Woods Academy, with the support of the Cabot Learning Federation, came out of special measures and was graded good by Ofsted in November 2019.

As a former Minister in the Department, my right hon. Friend will know that we are increasing funding by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, by £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and by £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared with 2019-20. That is in addition to the £1.5 billion a year that we will continue to provide to fund additional pension costs for teachers over the next three years. The national funding formula continues to direct funding where it is most needed. South Gloucestershire will receive 3.8% more per-pupil funding in 2021-22—above the national average of 3.1%—which amounts to an additional £6.9 million based on provisional allocations and will take its total funding to over £177 million.

I turn to the question of secondary provision in Lyde Green. Until now, based on demographics, a school has not been needed in this area, but there is now an increasing need for places for secondary school-age pupils in this part of south Gloucestershire, which is projected to put pressure on the school system from 2022 onwards. To date, the deficit in places for year 7 pupils in this area—88 in 2019 and 106 in 2020—has been accommodated by local secondary schools. The largest group of pupils attend Downend School, and other pupils attend Mangotsfield School and Winterbourne Academy. However, as this demographic trend continues, the schools taking these extra pupils will no longer have the capacity to accommodate increasing numbers of pupils, and therefore an alternative solution will be needed.

Through the free schools programme, the Government have funded thousands of new good school places and opened schools across the country. As of 1 September, there are 558 open free schools, 49 university technical colleges and 22 studio schools. Those will provide more than 340,000 places when at capacity. We have approved a further 222 applications from groups that we are now working with to establish those schools. Of the mainstream free schools approved since 2014, 86% have been in areas where there was a need for more school places, and Ofsted’s latest information shows that 86% of all free schools with inspection reports published by the end of August are rated good or outstanding.

The purpose of free schools is to deliver choice, innovation and higher standards. We want them to challenge the status quo and drive wider improvement, injecting fresh approaches and drawing in talent and expertise from a wide variety of groups and backgrounds.

In 2019, seven of the top 15 Progress 8 scores for state-funded schools in England were achieved by free schools, including three of the top five in the country: Eden Boys’ School in Birmingham, Eden Girls’ School in Coventry and Michaela Community School in Brent. Secondary free schools are among the highest-performing state-funded schools in the country, providing a world class education to their students. For example, Michaela Community School was proud to announce its first wave of excellent GCSE results in 2019—54% of all grades awarded were level 7 and above, which is equivalent to A to A*. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils at the school is above the national average. We want to do more to unleash that kind of successful innovation in areas of the country where it is needed most of all, so that children, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

My hon. Friend mentioned wave 14. Applications for wave 14—the latest wave of the free schools programme—had a key focus on targeting areas most in need of good school places. We received a total of 89 applications and we have funding for up to 30 new schools. As my hon. Friend knows—he mentioned it in his speech—an application for a secondary free school in Lyde Green was progressed to the interview stage and is still going through the national assessment process. Covid-19 has unfortunately delayed the original timetable, but we have been able to complete interviews online. We expect to announce the names of successful applicants later this autumn, or in my hon. Friend’s words, “in due course”, as he parodied.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his success in securing time for this debate, which enabled him to raise an issue of concern to his constituents in the Lyde Green area. The Government recognise that in future years there will be an increasing need for more secondary school places in the Lyde Green area. The regional schools commissioners team will continue to work closely with the local authority on plans for meeting that need and the Department will announce the free schools decisions later this term.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.