Schools revamp on hold again
9:24am Friday 20th January 2012 in News
THE battle to rebuild Bolton’s rundown schools has stalled after the Government delayed making a decision — for the second time.
Bolton’s education bosses had hoped to hear in December whether they had been successful in their bid to be a part of a multimillion building programme to rebuild two secondary and three primary schools.
The Priority School Building Programme was another chance to revamp some of the borough’s schools after the council suffered a devastating blow when the Building Schools for the Future programme was axed. Westhoughton High School and Bolton Muslim School — which would have had complete new builds under BSF — Plodder Lane Primary in Farnworth, St Thomas CE Halliwell and Sunning Hill Primary were put forward for the new £2 billion programme from the Government’s priority building programme.
The scheme was set up to address schools in the worst condition that had lost out when BSF —to improve secondary schools— and the primary school capital programme was scrapped.
Bolton lost £83 million worth of investment when the BSF scheme was axed in 2010 as well as millions of pounds under the primary school capital programme.
And now, a decision on the future of Bolton Muslim Girls School, Westhoughton High School, St Thomas’s CE Halliwell, Sunning Hill Primary and plans to rebuild a primary school in Great Lever, has been delayed for at least two months.
Under BSF, the schools would not have been built yet, but the plans would have been displayed and there would be an excitement and morale would have been raised.
“The quality of teaching and learning is very important, but the environment does make a huge difference.”
Bolton Muslim Girls School and Westhoughton High School were put forward because of their “inherent condition and suitability issues”.
It was said they needed “major investment” and “new facilities”.
Bolton Muslim Girls School does not have a canteen, playing fields or sports facilities.
St Thomas and Sunning Hill were highlighted because of their “age and condition”.
St Thomas’s executive headteacher James Royal said: “Our children are amazingly resilient and the staff dedicated, creative and professional and the environment we work so hard in at St Thomas’s CE is always safe, clean and motivational.
“However, being able to plan for a new building with fresh and open space and the potential for exciting new learning is naturally very desirable.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “Partnerships for Schools are currently reviewing applications to the Priority School Building Programme to ensure there is a fair and rigorous selection of schools.
“Until all applications have been fully assessed, we are not able to announce which schools will be in the programme.”
Plans to rebuild a primary school in Great Lever, to replace Clarendon Primary, also remain on hold.
The £6.5 million campus for the school hangs in the balance while an application to grant Heywood Park — which is earmarked for its development — village green status is considered.
The existing school building, which has had emergency work carried out on it, was due to be demolished and turned into a recreational area for the community.