Millions of Sunderland school building cash delayed

Hetton School.
Hetton School.
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A WEARSIDE MP has hit out after millions of pounds of funding for schools was delayed.

Plans for major rebuilding programmes at four schools have been hit by delays after the Department for Education’s plans to secure funding collapsed.

St Anthony's Girls Catholic Academy, Sunderland.

St Anthony's Girls Catholic Academy, Sunderland.

Hetton School, entitled to a share of a multimillion-pound cash pot under the Government’s flagship Priority School Building programme, has been told its rebuild will not happen until 2016 at the earliest.

Other schools affected by the delays are Hylton Castle Primary School, Shiney Row Primary School and St Anthony’s Catholic Girls’ Academy.

The move has prompted an angry response from Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson who has now raised the issue with Education Secretary Michael Gove.

There had been disappointment following the scrapping of the £55billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) proposals in 2010.

File photo dated 01/05/11 of Education Secretary Michael Gove who will appear before MPs today as the row over GCSE English grades descended into farce. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday September 12, 2012. A Welsh exam board has called on regulators in the principality and England to agree on a 'common view' on how to resolve the crisis. See PA story EDUCATION GCSE. Photo credit should read: Chris Ison/PA Wire

File photo dated 01/05/11 of Education Secretary Michael Gove who will appear before MPs today as the row over GCSE English grades descended into farce. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday September 12, 2012. A Welsh exam board has called on regulators in the principality and England to agree on a 'common view' on how to resolve the crisis. See PA story EDUCATION GCSE. Photo credit should read: Chris Ison/PA Wire

That was replaced by the Priority School Building programme, which named the four Sunderland schools as among those in greatest need of updating.

Hopes were again raised that city schools would receive the much-needed cash.

Speaking about Hetton School, Ms Phillipson said: “I’m very disappointed that we are facing yet more delays in much-needed school rebuilding. There will be significant costs in keeping open existing buildings, such as asbestos management.

“Under the previous Labour Government’s school rebuilding programme the work to rebuild Hetton School would already be well under way.

“I want to know what assistance will be offered to schools as a result of Government incompetence.

“The staff, students and parents have waited long enough and this is unacceptable.”

Michael Gove, Education Secretary, said he would investigate what had happened to the cash pledges to Hetton School.

He added: “Sadly, the Building Schools for the Future Programme had to be terminated, not least because of the inefficiencies with the scheme.

“The Priority Schools Building Programme will ensure that schools are repaired at less cost to the taxpayer and in a more effective way.”

It will now be up to council bosses to ensure the affected schools remain in a condition suitable for teaching to continue.

Councillor Pat Smith, Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “We are aware that delays to the programme have been communicated to the schools by the Education Funding Agency, and we are continuing to work with both the local schools involved in the programme and the Government agencies to try to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

“As a council we will continue to support the schools who are subject to delay to ensure that their existing facilities remain suitable and safe for children and pupils until the point that they are able to move in to their new school buildings.”

Twitter: @craigjourno