Richard Lee School building one of the worst: Nick Gibb

Richard Lee Primary School in Coventry Richard Lee Primary School is one of seven for which Coventry City Council has bid for funding

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A school building in Coventry has been described by the schools minister as "one of the worst" he has ever seen.

Nick Gibb visited Richard Lee Primary School, Wyken, which is one of seven in the city waiting to hear if they are to receive government funding for repairs.

Up to £3bn is available to rebuild dilapidated properties in England under the Priority School Building Programme.

Mr Gibb would not be drawn on whether Richard Lee would be among those selected in the first phase in May.

After touring the school with head teacher Nicola Harwood and local Labour MP Bob Ainsworth, Mr Gibb said it was "clear the school is in a very bad condition".

'Most in need'

He said: "It is very bad. I saw some damp, the windows are in a bad state, the ceilings are leaking.

Analysis

It's not clear how many schools across the country have applied for this scheme (the Priority Schools Building Programme) but when asked, the minister revealed "more have applied than there is available capital". It's a PFI a (private finance initiative), which means schools or local authorities would be signed up to a 25-year repayment contract if successful.

Last year the Coalition government asked for applications, saying a decision would be announced during December 2011, but this was delayed. At the beginning of the year the Education Secretary Michael Gove said there'd be an announcement in February, but on his visit to Richard Lee Primary the Schools Minister Nick Gibb said it would now be towards the end of May (2012).

Richard Lee Primary is 60 years old, parts of the ceiling have caved in twice, there are cracks snaking through the dining room floor and six new leaks have appeared in the roof in the last week. Headteacher Nicola Harwood said she's "fed-up" at the situation.

"There's no question the school is in a very bad condition but the decision about how we allocate taxpayers' money to the Priority Schools Building Programme is taken in a very scientific and objective way based on an assessment of all the schools that have applied."

The school was not eligible for funding under Labour's Building Schools for the Future programme as it was solely for secondary schools.

Mr Ainsworth said: "Coventry now has only enough money to build one half of one primary school and that's for the entire city.

"I can only hope we've done our level best to give Richard Lee the maximum opportunity to be one of those schools."

Parents and pupils at the school delivered a petition containing about 3,000 signatures to Downing Street last July.

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