THE decision to scrap plans to rebuild or refurbish seven high schools in Tameside has been slammed by Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds.
Headteachers and education officials from Tameside Council have been drawing up plans to update the schools for months, as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme.
Funding for building work at Copley, West Hill, Fairfield, Longdendale, St Thomas More, Audenshaw and All Saints high schools was announced in December 2009.
And the schools were looking forward to offering the advantages that an improved environment could offer.
But a decision by the government, announced last night (mon), means the work will not go ahead.
Mr Reynolds, who is also a governor at Longdendale Language College, says the government’s decision to halt the plans at this stage was “cruel”.
“Building Schools for the Future was set up in recognition that significant numbers of children across the country were being taught in conditions that were unacceptable,” said Mr Reynolds.
“I was at school in the ‘90s and I remember buckets placed to catch dripping water, rotten window frames, classrooms and corridors that were draughty – and the routine use of mobile classrooms. The quality of school buildings was simply not good enough.
“BSF has already made significant inroads into improving the standard of our school buildings.
“But if we, as a society, are really serious about wanting equality of opportunity for all children we have to be serious about updating ALL our schools.
“Across Tameside, headteachers, education officials and pupils have been involved in drawing up plans to ensure their school buildings that can meet the demands of the 21st century curriculum. To withdraw funding from seven of these schools at this late stage is simply cruel.”
In announcing the decision, Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove said it was to help get the best value for money.
But Mr Reynolds says that with the additional maintenance costs associated with ageing schools this could be a short-sighted decision.
Published July 7, 2010