Crumbling school will be rebuilt

Seaham School of Technology head teacher, Dave Shield is hoping plans for a new school that were dropped by the government will now be funded by Durham County Council.
Seaham School of Technology head teacher, Dave Shield is hoping plans for a new school that were dropped by the government will now be funded by Durham County Council.
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EDUCATION chiefs have been reassured they will get the full amount needed to rebuild a crumbling school.

Concerns had been raised that Seaham School of Technology would only be refurbished rather than replaced.

The fears were sparked by a claim the Department of Education would only be allocating the project £11million, rather than the £17.5million required.

Now Durham County Council has welcomed news it will be given the funds it needs to press on with the original scheme.

David Theobald, the council’s project director, said: “We have received further information from the Department for Education which has clarified the situation.

“It looks likely that funding will be provided for a full new build, which is great news for the school.”

The worries over a potential shortfall were taken up by Easington MP Grahame Morris, who took Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove to task.

In a letter to Mr Gove, he said a refurbishment would be a “poor outcome for the school” and said the timescale for the programme would also delay the completion of the work.

He added: “The existing school is in a very poor condition and positioned on a physically constrained site where redevelopment is difficult and could cause significant disruption to the children’s education.

“The main site is also too small to provide playing fields and these are position two further detached sites separated by a main road which presents all manner of access and safety problems as well as disrupting PE lessons.”

Mr Morris was referring to the existing school playing fields, which can only be reached by crossing the busy Lord Byron’s Walk, which has a speed limit of 40mph.

As part of his letters, which included an action plan on how to move the delay-hit scheme forward, he highlighted how Seaham was ranked towards the top of the 261 schools which have been put forward for action.

The Burnhall Drive school, which costs £7million a year in repairs because of its aging condition, was originally due to be moved and replaced under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme launched by the last Labour government.

While some schools, including Easington Community Science College and St Bede’s in Peterlee, were able to press on with construction, Seaham’s project was held up.

BSF was then ditched by Mr Gove when the Coalition came into power.

Seaham, along with nine other dilapidated schools across County Durham and Sunderland, were told late last month they would be getting cash under the new Priority School Building Programme.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham