Green light given for funding rebuild of three Stevenage schools

FUNDING for the rebuilding of three secondary schools in Comet country will not be pulled, a Government review has decided.

Last month, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced cuts to the Building Schools for the Future project, which had aimed to rebuild, remodel and relocate every secondary school in the country.

Projects at five Stevenage schools – Thomas Alleyne, John Henry Newman, Barnwell, Barclay and Greenside – were immediately cancelled, and plans for Marriotts, Lonsdale and Nobel placed under review.

On Friday, the green light was given for funding the rebuilding of Marriotts and Nobel and the re-siting of Lonsdale on the Marriotts site.

Mr Gove said: “Planning for these projects is well advanced and we are keen they should proceed without further delay.”

Alastair Craig, headteacher at Nobel, said: “Clearly the hundreds of letters from parents helped to make clear the need for this programme to continue.”

Patrick Marshall, headteacher at Marriotts, added: “I’m delighted and very relieved.

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“There are an awful lot of people who have put a lot into this, and the Government could easily have said no to the project.

“It would have been tragic had it not worked out.”

He said building work is now expected to start early next year, with the new Marriotts site open by September 2012.

Stephen McPartland, Tory MP for Stevenage, has been working with the three headteachers and Herts County Council to push these projects through.

“It just goes to show what happens when we work in a united manner,” he said. “I’m delighted.”

He said the infrastructure of the schools currently is “awful”, with classrooms at Nobel containing asbestos and 85 per cent of the school’s floor space beyond its serviceable life, given as an example.

But Labour councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, has voiced concerns about the situation. “I just hope we are not creating a two-tier education system here in Stevenage,” she said. “I really am quite worried about that. Everybody should have an equal opportunity to education.”

Robin Parker, Lib Dem leader on Stevenage Borough Council, added: “It is now important we focus attention on what alternative to BSF the Government will bring forward to rebuild or refurbish the other schools in the town, which at the moment remain stopped.”

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