Lack of investment is delaying vital repairs to crumbling schools

Repairs to six crumbling schools in the Black Country and Staffordshire as part of a £2 billion Government programme are being held up by a lack of private investment, it has emerged.

Wood End Primary, Wednesfield
Wood End Primary, Wednesfield

The Department for Education unveiled its Priority Schools Building programme last May as a scaled-down version of the Building Schools for the Future rebuild programme, which was axed after it was deemed too expensive.

However it has now been revealed the department has yet to secure private investment to help fund work in 219 of the 261 projects in the five-year programme.

Schools affected in the West Midlands include Edward the Elder Primary School and Wood End Primary School, both in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton and Harvills Hawthorn Primary School, The Phoenix Collegiate Academy and Hall Green Primary School which are all in Sandwell.

Gnosall St Lawrence Primary School, in Gnosall, Staffordshire, is also involved.

When the scheme was first announced it was thought work would begin immediately but the Government now says it is looking towards the bond market to raise money for renovations.

Labour MP for West Bromwich East Tom Watson said schools did not yet know if they would have enough money for a full rebuild or ‘just a lick of paint’ – 10 months after the programme was unveiled.

Mr Watson added: “Michael Gove’s Priority Schools Building programme – which is a fraction of the money he disgracefully axed from Sandwell schools when he cancelled the Building Schools for the Future programme in 2010 – has made no progress.”

In total, 587 schools throughout England applied to the Government for money and just under half were told their bids were successful last May.

Department for Education spokeswoman Leigh Dowd stressed all of the school revamps would be carried out within the programme’s original five-year timeframe.

In Wolverhampton, this scheme came on top of the £270m Building Schools for the Future scheme. But other areas of the Black Country had their programmes axed, including Sandwell’s, which saw the borough miss out on £138m funding for nine schools.

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