New Seaham school plan could still become reality

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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AXED plans for a new £17.5million school could be back on again.

Seaham School of Technology was set to be replaced under the national Building Schools for the Future programme, but the scheme became a victim of cuts by Coalition education secretary Michael Gove.

Now Durham County Council has put together a new plan, which could see its replacement built on the former Seaham Colliery site within the next few years.

The school – which needs £7.5million just for repairs to crumbling buildings at its current Burnhall Drive site – has been listed as a priority for work.

It comes after thousands of people signed a petition calling for action from the Government, and the issue being raised in Parliament by Easington MP Grahame Morris.

The new proposals from the council would also see Elemore Hall and Durham Trinity, special schools on the outskirts of Durham, revamped.

The authority expects to get £54.4million in schools capital grants up to 2015.

However, it says this would not be enough to cover all the projects, so would divert funds from its children and young people’s services budget towards the cost.

Seaham’s headteacher David Shield said: “I’m delighted with this news, as it increases the chances of a new school being built in Seaham in the next few years.

“However, this is subject to capital funding being confirmed by the Government, and we hope to hear something on that in the next few weeks.

“If that is the case, this is excellent news and we hope it comes together for the benefit of the young people of the town.”

Durham County and Seaham Town Councillors Eddie and Jenny Bell have been among those lobbying for the new school to be built.

As part of plans previously put forward, the school was designed to allow a sports centre to also be built on the site if funding was secured.

Coun Eddie Bell said: “We have been looking at this since the Government savagely cut the Building Schools for the Future scheme for Seaham School, which means we have not secured funding.

“We have made sure it has been our number one priority.”

Mr Morris praised his council counterparts for their efforts and added: “I’m delighted the county council has made a replacement for Seaham School a priority.

“The thing we’re now concerned about is the commitment from the Government, because this is dependant on not making any further cuts.”

@EchoEastDurham