Con Dem government signals shift from ‘Free Schools’ policy, back to BSF-esque programme.

Sarah Teather has in the Willesden and Brent Times pledged that schools will be able to reapply for a new school building with an announcement expected towards the end of the year.

Source: Guardian

The announcement signals a logical realisation that the Labour Party’s Building Schools for the Future programme was the correct route to follow with regards to Education policy. After a poor take up of schools going down the Teather and Gove ‘Free Schools’ route, the money that was there for the BSF scheme, as shown in this letter from Sarah Teather’s permanent secretary at the Education Department (LINK), which hasn’t been taken up by ‘free schools’, is available again for new school buildings.

In the meantime, the embarrassing U-turn dithering and realisation of this, will affect children in Brent now and in the immediate future.

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Have just been reading Sarah Teather’s take on the Building Schools for the Future Programme in the Willesden and Brent Times….

Whoa whoa whoa… let me get this right… Sarah Teather blames the poor state of our school buildings in Brent on the Labour Party’s Building Schools for the Future Scheme? A scheme that would have provided better school buildings and rapidly expanded the amount of children that we could accommodate in our schools.

Her logic totally defies all notions of the phrase common sense – a scheme that would’ve brought more school places to our children that was scrapped by her Government is to blame for the shortage for school places we face in Brent.

Yes, pure political point scoring from Brent Central MP whilst children in the Borough inevitably suffer. In addition, Teather has announced that there will be a new fund available that schools in Brent will be able to apply for, with an announcement due towards the end of the year. This signals a move back to Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme. Except naturally, the Coalition Government will just call it something else so that they can take the credit for it as their own scheme.

In the meantime, the scale of the problem in our school buildings is highlighted by a recent incident at the Copland School where a light fell from the ceiling and hit a child. The delay in reverting back to Labour’s BSF programme is inevitably affecting children now.

Labour invests another £80million to modernise schools in Brent

Following extensive lobbying by Brent Labour councillors and local Labour MPs Dawn Butler and Barry Gardiner, the Labour government has agreed to provide an additional £80 million under its ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme. This means that secondary schools in the borough will be rebuilt or expanded as part of the government’s programme to modernise all secondary schools. Those programmed in the first phase are Alperton, Cardinal Hinsley in Harlesden, Queen’s Park Community School (which is to be expanded) and Copland School in Wembley.

Labour’s Education Spokesperson, Councillor Mary Arnold, said:

“Once again our Labour government has put its money where its mouth is and invested in education. In recent years, the Labour government has given Brent the second highest increase school budgets in the entire country and now they are giving us this huge additional capital investment to improve the fabric of our schools. Before Labour came to power, Brent school students were taught in overcrowded classrooms sometimes with leaking roofs and in some cases in corridors. That situation has massively improved under Labour and this new money gives us the chance to ensure that every Brent child receives a first class education in modern schools with state of the art facilities”.

The ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme allows for expansion as well as modernisation and Labour fears that the Lib Dem/Tory council may use the money merely to expand schools rather than modernise them. They have so far failed to rebuild primary schools despite receiving the money from the government to do so and their failure to take urgent action when they came to power four years ago has resulted in a critical shortage of school places.