No rebuild cash for crumbling Calder High School

A school that was once described by the former education minister as “one of the worst schools” he had seen has missed out on Government rebuild funding for the second time.

Friday, 13th February 2015, 6:00 am
No cash is being made available to rebuild Calder High School

Calder High School, Mytholmroyd, has missed out on “vital” funding, when it was not included in the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme that was announced on Monday - a fund that is aimed at rebuilding schools in the worst condition.

The school, which was opened in January 1950, and neighbouring Todmorden High never qualified for funding under a previous Labour Government’s Building Schools for the Future pro gramme, as the need for a rebuild was judged by criteria which included exam results and social deprivation.

Now, under the new system every school in England is surveyed and funding priority is given to schools in the worst state of dilapidation and the highest demand for school places - but the two Calder Valley schools have missed out.

Fran Orford, a parent governor at Calder High, said: “The school is in need of vital repairs.

“It is hard for the staff and students and they all do their best but it’s hard to work where you have water leaking into classrooms.

“It is extremely sad for the school, which needs the repairs, that central Government have overlooked us.”

The Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker “hit the roof” on Tuesday at Todmorden High School, where he protested against the Government’s decision not to include the schools in the £2bn funding announcement.

Mr Whittaker said both schools had been considered urgent cases in Calderdale “for more than a decade.”

“I am bitterly disappointed that Todmorden and Calder High have not been included within the PSBP. I have lobbied various Government ministers for their inclusion in the programme for many years and this decision is a bitter pill to swallow,” he added.

“As part of the Education Select Committee I have visited hundreds of different schools across the country and I can honestly say that I have not seen a school which is more in need of repair than Todmorden High.”

Calderdale councillor Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) said: “When the former Education Minister Michael Gove visited Calder High some years ago he described it as one of the worst schools he had ever seen. Having cancelled the Building Schools For The Future funding Todmorden High School and Calder High were to receive under the previous Labour Government, the Tories and Lib Dem Coalition now deliver this double blow to the Upper Valley despite years of promises and pledges from our local MP.

“Calderdale MBC is still committed to honouring Labour’s policy of investing over £7m in new buildings for Todmorden High and a new primary school at Ferney Lee but this decision is an outrage which will disappoint and anger thousands of parents, pupils and staff.”

Sue McMahon, NUT Divisional Secretary for Calderdale, said: “The facts for Calder High is they have no proper PE facilities - the tennis courts are sinking, the astroturf subsides, the main playing field is on the floodplain.

“The building is not fit for purpose - they have a signifcant amout of water running down classroom walls, there’s mould growing in classrooms, there are two mobile classrooms that are rotten, there’s a wheelie-bin full of water that collects rain inside one of the classrooms - it’s in a disgraceful condition.

“The local authority is pumping £5.5 million into Todmorden High, but it can’t afford to fund Calder High - that’s not the council’s fault, that’s the fault of the Government.

“Craig Whittaker is constantly making promises he can’t keep - he’s making political capital out of our young people.

“This is purely a damage-limitation exercise he’s conducting.”

Calderdale Council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Stuart Smith, said: “We’re very disappointed that we have not received any central government funding for works at Todmorden High School or Calder Valley High School. These schools are not in good condition but we are committed to maintaining them as best we can with the limited funding we have available.

“The Council has already allocated £5m for a new teaching block to replace the worst condition blocks at Todmorden High School and has agreed a maintenance programme of works with both schools to maintain health and safety standards”

Josh Fenton-Glynn, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the Calder Valley, said: “Like many people I am bitterly disappointed that the Tory-led government has so utterly failed the students of Todmorden and Calder High school.”

Coun Janet Battye (Lib Dem) said: “Calderdale Council has done what it can, within its means, to repair and maintain the school buildings. It’s putting its own money into building a new classroom block at Todmorden High School but this isn’t enough. So, it’s really disappointing that we’re knocked back by yet another new funding stream.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “As part of our long term economic plan, we have continued to invest in school buildings. Under this Government £18bn has been invested in the school estate, on top of the new funding being announced today. Alongside announcing the schools to be included in PSBP2, we are also announcing school condition allocations for the next three years. These allocations reflect the condition of school buildings; meaning those schools in who missed out on PSBP2 can be confident their needs will be reflected in the funding we make available to their local authority, trust or VA partnership.”