Schools receive major blow after cuts
SUFFOLK: Many schools in Suffolk have been dealt a major blow with a government announcement that it was scrapping a scheme to improve their buildings.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said yesterday that 715 schools nationally will see their rebuilding projects cancelled as a result of the decision to axe the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
Plans to transform many secondary schools in Ipswich under the scheme, including Chantry and Westbourne Sports College, have been stopped as the government announced massive savings to be made in the area of education.
However there is still some hope for Felixstowe as the plans to replace Deben and Orwell high schools with a purpose-built modern education centre for 1,850 11 to 19 year olds are still being discussed.
The plan to rebuild Holywells is also still up for discussion.
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The scheme would have meant about �750million of investment for Suffolk’s secondary schools, special schools and pupil referral units and was described by Suffolk County Council as a “once in a lifetime opportunity’’ to transform the learning experiences of the county’s children.
Yesterday’s announcement came as treasury secretary Danny Alexander said the Department for Education must make �1billion in savings, following a decision to cancel a series of spending commitments made by Labour.
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Under the original BSF scheme, set up by Labour in 2004, all 3,500 secondary schools in England were to be rebuilt or refurbished by 2023.
Mr Gove said yesterday that 706 schools that have reached “financial close” – where work is ready to begin – will still go ahead.
Of the 715 secondaries that will not now get their building work, 180 were supposed to be new-builds, and 319 were due to be remodelled or refurbished.
A further 123 academy building projects are to be reviewed on a “case-by-case basis.”
The BSF scheme was responsible for about a third of the Department for Education’s capital spending, Mr Gove said.
But he added: “Throughout its life it has been characterised by massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy.”
However, Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers’ union NASUWT, said: “The coalition government’s announcement to scale back the BSF programme will devastate parents and schools and condemn thousands of children and young people to a future of Dickensian education.”