New schools plans saved from the axe

Coucillor Harry Trueman.
Coucillor Harry Trueman.
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THOUSANDS of pupils are in line for new schools after five revamp projects were saved from the scrap heap.

Teachers, parents and children were left disappointed when the Coalition Government scrapped the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

Shiney Row Primary School, Shiney Row.

Shiney Row Primary School, Shiney Row.

Now five Wearside schools in need of replacement could be modernised or rebuilt under a scheme introduced by ministers.

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “This council has always wanted to provide all new schools and that’s why we’re applying for this funding – and we hope we’re successfull in doing so.”

Sunderland City Council’s deputy leader, Harry Trueman, said: “This council has an excellent record of investing in new schools under the Building Schools for the Future programme, and we were disappointed with the Government’s decision to withdraw the programme in 2010.”

Coun Trueman said the Department for Education had now set out terms for council’s to apply for cash from it’s Priority Schools Building Programme.

Usworth Grange Primary School, Washington

Usworth Grange Primary School, Washington

Sunderland’s ruling cabinet agreed to bid for five new schools at its meeting yesterday. The schools in line for cash are:

l Hetton School

l St Anthony’s Girls’ School

l Hylton Castle Primary School

Hylton Castle Primary School, Sunderland.

Hylton Castle Primary School, Sunderland.

l Shiney Row Primary School

l Usworth Grange Primary School

Senior councillors on Sunderland’s ruling cabinet heard how these were the only schools in the city likely meet the criteria.

The council must show the schools each have a maintenance backlog of more than 30 per cent of the notional cost of building a new school.

Coun Trueman said: “For example, if a school as going to cost £9million, the maintenance backlog would have to be almost £3million.”

Councillors welcomed the news, but questioned the Government’s policies on school replacements.

Hetton councillor Jim Blackburn, who sits on the cabinet, said: “In Hetton, we were very disappointed (when BSF was scrapped). Hetton School is practically falling down.”

If the council’s bid is successful, the new schools will be rebuilt using Private Finance Initiatives (PFI).

Councillor Celia Gofton questioned why the Government was using PFI when it had criticised Labour using such private funding schemes in the NHS.

The council’s bid has now been submitted to the Department for Education for consideration.

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