School Building Projects to Go-Ahead
Council welcomes news
Ealing Council has welcomed an announcement from the Department of Education that two Building Schools for the Future (BSF) schemes temporarily halted pending a review are now to go ahead as planned.
Ealing’s school investment plans were dealt a blow earlier this month when Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced he was scrapping the national BSF programme. The council planned to use BSF funding to expand, rebuild and refurbish 17 high and special schools in the borough and build a new high school in Greenford. A major programme of investment in school’s information and communication technology (ICT) was also planned.
More than £300 million was to be spent on the expansion and improvements, which would have dealt with a projected shortfall of more than 3200 school places.
The cancellation of BSF meant that plans for 15 existing schools and a new high school were stopped immediately and plans for the first two schools in the Ealing BSF programme were to be reviewed.
The decision will mean that the complete rebuild of Dormer Wells High School, Southall, and the partial rebuild and refurbishment of The Cardinal Wiseman School, Greenford, can now go ahead. Rebuilding and refurbishment at the remaining schools is still cancelled.
Work was originally scheduled to start at The Cardinal Wiseman School this month and at Dormers Wells High School in October. However, the review has pushed the start date back to later in the year.
Councillor Patricia Walker, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “I am delighted for the children, parents and staff of Dormers Wells High School and The Cardinal Wiseman School.
“Both schools have spent an enormous amount of time and resources getting their plans to this stage and it was devastating to think that all of this effort might have been for nothing. They are now going to benefit from the investment that they desperately need.
“As welcome as this announcement is, I am sorry to say that it does not solve Ealing’s problems. We have a growing population and are in desperate need of more places for our children, especially those with special needs.
“The cancellation of our remaining BSF schemes means that we will still have a projected shortfall of around 2800 spaces and if we don’t receive the funding we need to deal with this problem soon, we will run out of high school places by September 2014.”
The government is currently carrying out a comprehensive review of all capital investment in schools, early years, colleges and sixth forms. The review will guide spending between 2011-2015 and will decide what money is still available and how it might be allocated. The results of this review are due to be announced later in the year.
The council is now pressing the government for the financial assistance needed to provide the required school places.
The council was also notified last week that approval has been given for a £6.3 million scheme to refurbish and expand the West London Academy in Northolt.
10 August 2010