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Four school rebuild plans axed

PUBLISHED: 11:08 08 July 2010 | UPDATED: 11:48 23 August 2010

PLANS to rebuild four new secondary schools in the borough have been axed after the government stopped the Building Schools for Future programme. Education Secretary Michael Gove announced how plans to rebuild 715 schools around the country would be scrap

PLANS to rebuild four new secondary schools in the borough have been axed after the government stopped the Building Schools for Future programme.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced how plans to rebuild 715 schools around the country would be scrapped this week.

Both Gravesend Grammar schools, Meopham School and St George's Secondary School were due to be rebuilt or refurbished as part of the next wave of work but will now have to make do with their existing buildings.

The exact amounts withdrawn from each school have yet to be revealed but it is predicted to run into many millions.

Julie Wilson, headteacher of Northfleet School for Girls, is one of the five schools whose rebuild has already gone ahead and said the news was a'huge disappointment."

She said: "One of our agreed aims was that there would be no 'new old schools'.

"Now some schools won't get the building to support their vision and that makes it look like a two tier system. Young people deserve the investment in their future that the Building Schools programme provided and it is a huge disappointment that many of them will now miss out on this opportunity to really transform education.

"You don't need new buildings to do new things, but it really does makes a difference."

"All heads prepared a joint vision for the education and wellbeing of all young people in Gravesham. They included collaborative courses, shared specialisms, community outreach, including the use and access of facilities, and flexible ways of learning in exciting new spaces."

Brian Chadwick, General Secretary of the Gravesend and Dartford Teachers Association, echoed her fears.

He said: "Let's face it, all schools, teachers and pupils deserve to have the best environment that can be reasonably afforded.

"Teachers' morale is low anyway. Add to the equation that some teachers were expecting to get a new building to teach in and that has now been taken away and you can see it will have an effect on teachers.

"There's been a lot of planning for new buildings, and not just for the buildings, also for the curriculum and now in the short term teachers are faced with no hope of this being achieved."

Five schools in Gravesend have already benefited from the scheme introduced by the Labour Government.

Northfleet Technology College, St John's Catholic Comprehensive, and Thamesview are being completely rebuilt under the programme which was managed by KCC but funded by the government.

Northfleet School for Girls had a partial rebuild combined with some of the existing building, Each school has had around £20 million already spent on the scheme.

Ifield School in Gravesend was rebuilt as part of Kent's Special School Review, but was funded through the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Mr Chadwick is now advising parents looking at the schools in the autumn to be cautious.

He added: "I'm concerned as well for those pupils joining schools this September who were expecting a new building while they were at that school. There's a level of expectation that has now been taken away. Some parents and children will have chosen schools because of what was planned for the future and now they will be disappointed."

Education secretary Mr Gove said the Labour plan was "bureaucratic and wasteful" and not value for money for the taxpayer.

Shadow Education Secretary claimed it was "a black day for our country's schools.

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