School given cash for building work

PUPILS and staff at a Bedlington school are keeping their fingers crossed that it will be rebuilt after it was among three in the county chosen to benefit from a government cash boost.

Bedlingtonshire High School is among 200 nationwide getting funds for new buildings or to refurbish their existing premises.

A total of £2bn is being spent as part of the priority school building programme to tackle buildings in poor condition.

Plans are now being drawn up for improvements to Bedlingtonshire High, with staff hoping that a complete rebuild will be agreed.

Kieran McGrane, principal at the Palace Road school, said: “It’s long overdue.

“Northumberland’s schools have been in serious need of a facelift for quite some time.

“Bedlingtonshire’s school buildings date back to the 1920s and 1930s.

“We’re trying to provide education that will take students into the 21st century in 20th century buildings. I think the students deserve better.

“Evidence has shown that where schools are rebuilt it has a positive impact on attendance, engagement with students and gives a general lift for students and staff.

“The fact this is happening in Bedlington is great.

“Over the last two to three years, the school has made rapid strides forward in terms of what we have been doing, and this helps us take it to another level.”

He added that the school had been expecting to hear if it had been successful in December, but as the weeks ticked by, it had started to fear it might not get the funding.

“It seemed to be a long time coming,” said Mr McGrane.

“Nobody had their hopes up, but since the announcement last week, everyone has had a massive lift.”

He said government officials were due to visit the school in the next few weeks, and that would give staff a better idea of which plans would be approved and how long the process is likely to take.

Alnwick’s Duchess High and Prudhoe High are the other county schools set to benefit.

Paul Moffat, Northumberland County Council’s corporate director for children’s services, said: “We’re delighted with the news from the Department for Education and this much-needed funding to address the building conditions of these high schools.

“The pupils and staff of Bedlington, Alnwick and Prudhoe will be looking forward to the opportunities to improve the learning environment.

“This is the result of lots of hard work and effort by everyone involved.

“This is great news for young people in Northumberland.”

County council leader Jeff Reid added: “We know this sort of funding can improve the life chances of children across the county.

“I’m pleased that the bids for Bedlingtonshire High has been included in the scheme.”