Kent loses 40 school rebuilding projects

Image caption Concerns have been raised about a two-tier school system emerging

A government decision to scrap 40 school rebuilding projects across Kent has been met with disappointment

Paul Carter, Kent County Council leader, said the county got nearly 20 projects "past the point of no return", before the school revamps were halted.

He said Kent was the country's largest local authority and had the largest school building scheme in the country.

Education secretary Michael Gove said the system needed radical reform to avoid wasting money on bureaucracy.

Neil Matthews, a governor at Pent Valley Technology School, Folkestone, said the school had planned a rebuild project which had taken "considerable time" to prepare.

He said: "To have trod through the mire to get to that point, to find out the funds are withdrawn, is quite devastating."

But he added: "We've got a governors' meeting next week and I don't think we should take this lying down."

He added: "One should look at the finances and find out how much money they have got to spend, and hopefully they might come back with something."

John Walder, from Kent's National Union of Teachers, said the previous government's Building Schools for the Future scheme had been far too difficult and complicated for schools to access.

But he added: "The fact that it was bureaucratic was absolutely no excuse at all for cutting the funding. We have, in Kent, a long history of school buildings which are unsatisfactory because of their age."

'Pointless bureaucracy'

Andy Somers, principal of Hartsdown Technology College, Margate, said his classrooms were too small, his school building was "not fit for purpose", and a recent leak in the roof of the sports hall had led to a £38,000 repair bill.

He said he was concerned about a two-tier system emerging where schools that had been completely refurbished would have to compete with others that had not.

Mr Carter said Kent had managed to get at least 11 schools and probably seven, eight or nine academies past the point of no return, but he was enormously disappointed about 40 projects that would not go ahead.

In the Commons on Monday, Mr Gove said: "The whole way that we build schools needs radical reform to ensure more money is not wasted on pointless bureaucracy, to ensure that buildings are built on budget and on time and to ensure a higher proportion of capital investment gets rapidly to the front line."

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