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Anger as leaky school is ‘jilted at the altar’
A TOP school which asked for £6.5 million to rebuild crumbling classrooms has had its request turned down by the Government.
Christopher Whitehead Language College in Bromwich Road, Worcester, was told on Tuesday by the Department for Education there was no money to fund its three-year plan, despite praising its longer-term vision.
The school voluntarily became an academy in July 2011 after the process was opened up to any school rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted inspectors, meaning it is directly funded by the Government.
It is not the first time the school has been “jilted at the altar” said headteacher Neil Morris, as in 2008 it was “first on the list” of Worcester schools due a rebuild through the defunct Building Schools for the Future project.
A deal with Tesco and Worcestershire County Council to relocate the school fell through, although the school did get new windows, a shared leisure centre and pitches through the Sainsbury’s St John’s new build.
The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has now told Christopher Whitehead it must work on the cost of its plans including replacing two “leaky” temporary classroom buildings.
School business manager David Maxwell said: “We’ve got two temporary classrooms with patchwork repairs, so we have to think hard about where we go from here, as one classroom runs out of planning permission in December, and another in April – so we might lost them both.
“At the end of last year, the roof in the music block started to leak. We put a tarpaulin over the leak.
“We decided to go for a big strategic proposal setting the school up for the future, which the EFA said they liked.”
But the EFA did not like the cost of the plans – although some of the 571 other successful schools’ bids, above £1 million, had been agreed to.
Mr Maxwell said: “There’s nowhere else for us to go for money. We have to wait until next March for a new bid, or we have to become a sponsored school [linking with a business, charity, or a faith].”
City MP Robin Walker has been supporting the “ambitious bid”, saying its failure was “unfortunate”.
“The school can be forgiven for patching and mending in the last few years – something they have done very well – because of these longer-term plans, which have not come about.”
He arranged for EFA officers to tour the school yesterday to discuss what could be affordable.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said it could not comment directly on why the school’s bid had been turned down, but said the funding pot had been “over-subscribed by almost four times, meaning hard decisions had to be made”.
“Unsuccessful schools should review their proposals,” she said.