Minister invites Sunderland MP to discuss crumbling school

David Laws
David Laws
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SCHOOLS Minister David Laws has invited a Wearside MP to discuss the appalling state of a city school.

Hetton School’s crumbling building has been highlighted in Parliament, after numerous areas were closed off, due to concerns over asbestos and heating failures.

Staff at the 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 to the scheme mean its rebuild will not happen until 2015 at the earliest.

However, many fear this is too long a wait for a school in such a poor condition.

Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson has highlighted the problem in the House of Commons, and has now been invited to discuss the issue with Minster for Schools, David Laws.

Ms Phillipson said: “Parts of the school have been closed due to asbestos, there are falling drainpipes and the heating system is failing.

“I am asking if the minister will resolve the funding issues as a matter of urgency. The situation facing teachers and pupils simply cannot be allowed to continue.”

Ms Phillipson has already written directly to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, demanding action is taken over the issue.

Mr Gove replied, claiming the funding batch in which Hetton School has been placed, contained a number of “complex projects” which needed to be resolved.

Mr Laws said: “There are some issues arising in getting the batch ready for private finance. I have seen the most recent letter Ms Phillipson sent to the Secretary of State and I would be happy to meet her to discuss the practicalities of these issues further.”

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 Wearside schools as among those in greatest need.

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