Sunderland MP pleads with Minister over crumbling school

Hetton School, Hetton.
Hetton School, Hetton.
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DELAYS to a multimillion-pound rebuild of a school are affecting teaching and learning, it was claimed today.

Hetton School has been forced to close off three areas due to wind causing asbestos ceiling tiles to move.

And heating system failures and drainpipes falling from the building have also prompted serious concerns.

Now, Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson, has written directly to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, demanding urgent action is taken.

Hetton School had been told it was entitled to a share of a multimillion-pound cash pot under the Government’s flagship Priority School Building programme.

But delays, revealed in the Echo last month, mean its rebuild will not happen until 2015/2016 at the earliest.

Staff and parents fear the condition of the building is so bad that it is affecting the education of pupils.

In her letter to Mr Gove, Ms Phillipson says: “I can’t emphasise enough how urgently the situation requires action by your department. The headteacher has told me the school building continues to deteriorate.”

“Understandably, the school’s condition is affecting teaching and learning at the school. Sunderland City Council is doing all it can to keep the school going.

“I’m sure we can both agree the environment within which a child is taught is important. Such clearly inadequate conditions damages the ability of teachers that educate young people.”

Ms Phillipson’s letter comes after she received information from Mr Gove outlining the reasons for delays in work.

He said: “The funding batch in which Hetton School has been placed contains a number of complex projects. There are issues which need to be resolved with individual schools before the batch can be released to the market.

“We currently expect work on schools in this batch to be completed in 2015 and 2016.”

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

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

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, but none are expected to receive funding until 2015 at the earliest.

Twitter:@craigjourno