Angry head slams school building cuts

AGGRIEVED head teacher David Pridding has called on the Government to tell his pupils why they will continue to be taught in decaying classrooms and below-par buildings.

Swinton Community was among five schools in Rotherham preparing for a modern rebuild by 2014, until the coalition cut the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said that the Government had no alternative because of the financial mess and rising national debt left by the previous Labour government.

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Mr Pridding said: “It’s unlikely to ever happen, but I would like to invite Mr Gove or any of his team to come and visit Swinton and talk to our students about this. “We were devastated by the announcement, for a number of reasons.

The new buildings would have been significantly better than those we have at the moment.

“We struggle to heat rooms in winter and then suffer from the stifling heat in the summer.

Upkeep costs in the existing buildings will put a considerable strain on our budgets.” Staff and pupils became heavily involved in the project to see a multi-million pound complete revamp of the 1950s-built site.

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“We got our students involved in the process, so now they have had their hopes raised and then taken away completely,” said Mr Pridding.

“Our students travelled down to London to show off their ideas and designs for Swinton Community School.

“The news broke on Monday night, and as one of my staff was arriving on Tuesday the first thing students were asking was ‘Is it true, miss?’” “I’m also devastated for our staff who became so involved in the project.

“A colleague here, Rachel Denton, and Graham Sinclair at Rotherham Borough Council have put in so much time. It’s been their life over the last two years up against massively demanding deadlines.

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“The school and local authority have met these deadlines, but now have nothing to show for their work.”

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Lessons would have continued as normal while construction took place. And builders would have accommodated the students to learn about the project.

But Mr Pridding is confident that his staff and pupils can turn the bad news around and continue to improve education for youngsters in Swinton.

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He said: “Rotherham’s BSF was not just about bricks and mortar, it was about the Transforming Rotherham Learning project.

“And I would like to send out the message that the school, governors, local authority and community will still be fighting to transform learning. “We have a learning community here in Swinton with the secondary school, primary schools and Milton Special School.

“This partnership we have established is very strong, and we will continue to build on that.” Angry MP John Healey has told Mr Gove of his dismay at the loss of the much-needed BSF funding.

He said he knew just what the project meant for the schools and students in Swinton—as well as Milton and St Pius in his Wentworth and Dearne constituency.

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He said: “I know that this is a decision the Government have chosen to take and did not need to take on financial grounds in dealing with the deficit.

“Our head teachers feel badly let down. They know the transformation that new, fit-for-purpose school buildings and equipment have on pupils.

“The Government is also letting down students, parents and teachers now and for generations to come.”

Mr Healey also demanded that the Government reimburse the borough council and schools for the £1.5 million already spent on BSF. Aston, St Pius, Oakwood and Hilltop were also prioritised for rebuilding through BSF, which would eventually have seen all Rotherham’s secondary schools given £222 million investment.

Maltby Academy will be reviewed separately by the Government.