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Today’s Education Select Committee on School Places (featuring David Laws)

Notionally the topic was “School Places” with Laws being called in to account for the fact that by 2020 there is a need for an extra half a million school places and not entirely a clear plan for creating them. However, given last week’s high-profile Free School ‘failure’ and Nick Clegg’s expected announcement of Lib Dem opposition to the Coalition policy of allowing unqualified teachers to teach indefinitely, the session sometimes felt like the issue of place planning was being used to drive a deeper conversation about these divisions.

Nevertheless, there were some penetrating questions. Graham Stuart highlighted the fact that the Lib Dem commitment to provide 5-7 year olds with free school meals raises concerns about school buildings (“What about kitchen needs?”) and Pat Glass handed Laws a devastating series of statistics on free schools that had been approved in areas that already had plenty of available places while parents in other areas were frantically trying to find one.

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