Sunderland schools £5.5million improvement chest

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NEW cash announced for Sunderland schools will help to continue a programme of repairs.

The Government last week announced a national £4billion package of funding to create more pupil places and maintain and repair buildings.

Sunderland is set to receive £3.9million in capital and maintenance money over the next year, and a further £1.6million will fund places in areas which need them most during the next two years.

Today council bosses outlined where the cash will go.

Coun Pat Smith, portfolio holder for Children’s Services at Sunderland City Council, said: “Our capital allocation has historically been used to respond to challenges from changing pupil numbers and physical changes to ageing buildings in terms of repairs and maintenance, both of which have to be addressed within the financial constraints we are facing.

“In recent years, Sunderland City Council has focused its capital allocation on the renewal of priority areas within our schools and buildings. This has included window replacement, roofing works and work directly related to health and safety and asset management.

“The budget for 2013-14 will enable us to continue the roll-out of this programme across the city. We will also continue to develop the capital estate of buildings and facilities in order to ensure that there are sufficient primary school places across the city in response to increasing local birth rates.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Children and Families, said: “A year ago I called for action in the budget to tackle the looming primary school places crisis, and welcome though it is, this allocation doesn’t change that.

“The primary school population in Sunderland is expected to increase by 1,600 over the next few years, yet instead of concentrating on building capacity in areas like this, the Government has been concentrating on funding free schools in areas with surpluses and converting secondary schools into academies.

“I therefore once again have to hope that the Chancellor will use his upcoming budget to reassure parents of today’s toddlers that they won’t have to struggle to find a primary school place in a couple of years.”

Twitter: @sunechoschools