Multi-million rebuild plan for crumbling Sunderland school

Usworth Grange Primary School, Washington.
Usworth Grange Primary School, Washington.
Have your say

EDUCATION chiefs were celebrating today after multimillion-pound plans were finally announced for a crumbling Sunderland school.

Usworth Grange Primary is set to benefit from priority Government funding eight months after proposals were first announced.

Headteacher Leigh Ford said: “It’s good news that we’ve reached the top of the rebuild list. We’re very much looking forward to seeing more details of the build programme and our new school taking shape.”

Usworth Grange is one of 15 of the country’s most dilapidated schools set to benefit from priority Government funding.

The Washington primary missed out when the Building Schools for Futures funding was axed, but it is now hoped a new purpose-built school will be up and running for the September 2014 intake.

Builders Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd have won the bid for the £64million North East contract for the Priority School Building Programme to build nine new schools including the Sulgrave primary, along with Durham Trinity School and Sports College at Aykley Heads.

Usworth Grange Primary was built as a short-term measure in the 1960s to meet the needs of families after a baby boom and was never intended to have more than a 25-year lifespan, so is now in a terrible state.

Although there have been ongoing repairs the building still costs a huge amount of money to run and is far too big for the 195 pupils.

Despite this the school recently celebrated amazing success with Ofsted, in less than two years it went from failing to being good with outstanding features.

Councillor John Kelly, chairman of governors at the primary, said: “It has been a long time coming. We are delighted to be in the mix of schools where building work is going ahead.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “Eight months after it was announced that Usworth Grange would be one of the vastly reduced number of schools to be refurbished or redeveloped following the scrapping of Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme, hopefully today’s announcement means that work can finally get under way.

“I look forward to seeing the school’s plans and hope that this work can be as transformative for pupils and staff as it has been at schools like Wessington Primary.”

McAlpine will now work with the Education Funding Agency and the nine schools to develop detailed designs and submit planning proposals before building work begins in the spring.

It was reported last month that funding for four other Sunderland schools in the Priority School Building Programme had been delayed until at least 2016.

These schools – Hetton School, Hylton Castle Primary, Shiney Row Primary and St Anthony’s Catholic Girls’ Academy, as well as Seaham School of Technology – had been hit because of the collapse of a private finance deal to fund them. Unlike Usworth Grange Primary, which is getting funding directly from the Government, these schools were due to be funded through the private finance initiative, PFI, but the cash has not been secured.