TEN of the most dilapidated schools across Sunderland and County Durham will get cash from a new building fund.
They are among 261 UK schools to benefit from the Priority School Building Programme, and include Seaham School of Technology which narrowly missed out on new £17.5million premises when the Coaltiion axed the previous government’s Building Schools for Future programme.
Thousands signed a petition calling for action to repair the crumbling buildings at the Burnhall Drive site, and the issue was raised in Parliament by Easington MP Grahame Morris.
Today, headteacher Dave Shield said: “Everyone at the school is delighted. It is great news for the young people of Seaham.
“We have had so many setbacks, but it looks like we are finally going to get a school which is fit for purpose.”
Mr Shield said the Seaham school would cost about £7million in repairs just to remain open, so a new building is essential.
Details of how much money will be allocated to each individual project are still to be clarified.
But those getting funding to tackle serious issues include Hetton School, Hylton Castle Primary, Shiney Row Primary, St Anthony’s RC Academy and Usworth Grange Primary, which is one of 42 prioritised by the Government as being in greatest need.
“We had just about given up hope, so this is fantastic news,” said headteacher Leigh Ford.
She said that although the 1960s school is not very old, it was only supposed to be temporary and never expected to last more than 25 years, so it is in a terrible state.
She said Sunderland City Council had done a lot of repairs over the past few years, but there were still numerous problems.
Other schools in County Durham with successful funding bids are Durham Trinity School and Sports College, St Joseph’s RV VA Primary, West Cornforth Primary and King James I Academy.
A total of 587 schools applied for the cash from the Priority School Building Programme, which has a £2billion budget for five years, so hundreds are going to be disappointed.
Councillor Pat Smith, portfolio holder for children’s services at Sunderland City Council, said: “The city council is delighted at the news that the bids it submitted for replacement school buildings at Hetton School, St Anthony’s Girls Catholic Academy, Hylton Castle Primary School, Shiney Row Primary School and Usworth Grange Primary School, have been successful and all five schools will be included in the Priority School Building Programme.
“It is excellent news for the city that all of the bids submitted were successful and builds on the previous success of the Building Schools for the Future and primary replacement programmes.
“Along with the recently completed St Joseph’s RC Primary School and the imminent completion of Maplewood special school, this will see another five new school buildings to enhance the learning experience of the children and young people in the city.”
Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “In tackling the challenges we face on school building I have been determined to use the capital funding at my disposal to best effect, seeking value for money and efficiency from every pound spent.”
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