Conservative Education Minister, Michael Gove, supported by his junior minister, Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central, has withdrawn £80 million worth of funding for Brent schools under the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) programme. The decision forms part of the Liberal Democrats ‘savage cuts’ agenda announced by Nick Clegg at last year’s Lib Dem conference and being implemented by the Con Dem coalition Government.
Brent has a rising school population and a shortage of school places at both primary and secondary stages. Seven of the borough’s secondary schools are in very poor condition, not fit for purpose and require urgent replacement. The first phase of the BSF funding was to cover the rebuilding and expansion of Copland Community School, Cardinal Hinsley Catholic College, Queen’s Park Community School and Alperton Community School.
In addition, the rebuilding of the Crest Academies is also ‘under review’. The Ark Academy is not affected by the cuts.
The Government’s decision means that Brent will not be able to meet the demand for new school places.
The Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Ann John, OBE, has condemned the Government’s action, which, she says, is driven by outdated right wing ideology. Cllr John said:
“This decision means that the future prospects of Brent’s school students are being sacrificed on the altar of an outdated right wing ideology which dictates that debt must be repaid over the shortest possible period irrespective of the damage to public services and to the economy. Moreover, scrapping capital projects like this damage the economy and increases the prospect of a ‘double dip’ recession. Any recovery will be led by growth in the construction industry and this is bad news for them as well”.
The Lead Member for Children & Families, Cllr Mary Arnold, added:
“This cut will lead to overcrowding, larger class sizes and a return to the days when Brent kids were taught in corridors rather than in class rooms. The government are creating slum schools of the future”.