Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Fight Tooth and Nail for Decent School Buildings

Brent Council confirmed the impact of the BSF programme on Brent schools with the following release.

Head teachers and students in Brent were shocked at the announcement  by the Government to axe the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

The timing couldn't have been more poignant for Brent's schools. As the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, addressed the House of Commons, students from Alperton Community School, Queens Park Community School, Copland Community School and Cardinal Hinsley Mathematics and Computing College were presenting to Brent Council their ideas and plans for their future buildings.

The four schools had been allocated £80m under the BSF programme.

Maggie Rafee, Head teacher at Alperton Community School, said: "There can be no denying that the news about the BSF programme being axed is absolutely devastating.

"This will mean our school will face uncertainty while we await the outcome of the review and go through whatever new hoops are set to secure the capital monies that the minister announced will still be available for schools in the greatest need. Our school will do whatever is necessary to make politicians sit up and take notice."

Students at the school have written to the Secretary of State for Education and invited him to visit the site and see why the investment is needed.

Councillor Ann John, Leader of Brent Council, said: "Yesterday's announcement will have a devastating impact on the educational opportunities of Brent's students for generations to come.

"The rising population in the borough has meant a shortage of school places and, with many of our schools in poor condition, this investment was vital.

"We will be drawing on the support of our MPs to argue our case to Government for this much-needed investment that goes beyond new buildings. Without funding Brent will not be able to meet the demand for pupil places in the future."

The axing of this programme along with the Coalitions claim that 'free schools' can be housed in closed down factories and warehouses, empty shops and disused churches, shows that they are completely out of touch with the needs of schools. We will be returning to private affluence (from whence most of them came) and public squalor.

I started teaching in the 1970s and remember classrooms with carefully positioned buckets catching rainwater leaking through ceilings, windows held together with tape and string,  walls covered with sugar paper to hid cracked and mouldy plaster. Are we really going to put up with this Government returning us to that state - along with oversized classes and shortage of text books and resources? 

The message given to pupils in such schools is: You don't matter.

We must fight tooth and nail to ensure our children have decent, sustainable school buildings which are fit for purpose.

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