Brent: New buildings for school money pledged

THERE is good news for Brent s schools, despite the gloomy cash reports and shortages of places. Sarah Teather, Junior Minister of children and families and Lib Dem Brent Central MP, said Brent s schools will be able apply for money to build new school bu

THERE is good news for Brent's schools, despite the gloomy cash reports and shortages of places.

Sarah Teather, Junior Minister of children and families and Lib Dem Brent Central MP, said Brent's schools will be able apply for money to build new school buildings as part of a new scheme to be announced in December.

In the exclusive interview at her Willesden constituency office, the minister also reveals why the new scheme will target providing more school places and rebuilding dilapidated classrooms.

Ms Teather said: "There will be a new buildings fund, that is the case. There is a review going on of how the government allocates capital for education. The review will then report a new way of doing it and there will be a new fund. Schools in Brent will apply for the new fund.


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She said: "The new scheme needs to prioritise buildings that are dilapidated and take into account areas where there is desperate need for new school places.

"Those are absolute priorities and seem to me to be common sense priorities. That you should rebuild schools that are falling down and make sure that children have enough schools to go to. That's certainly something I have been pushing for in every meeting."

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But what of the wasted money, time and energy now that schemes under Building Schools for the Future (BSF) have been axed?

"Unfortunately, because of the way in which BSF was run, people invested an enormous amount of time and planning, consultation and organisation. It was absolutely ridiculous.

"That is not the process for building schools."

She said when working in coalition decision making has to be pragmatic, with a dose of give and take.

So how can axing BSF funding be considered as part of a new progressive politics if children from more deprived areas are being affected?

"There are two things to say. The original way in which the system was designed took into account academic achievement and that's part of the reason why Brent always came so low down the threshold. So although we are actually quite a deprived borough, we were late on the BSF waves because our children did better than average, they did better than expected.

"Now that just seems to me to be a bit of a nonsense.

"The second thing I would say, which I reiterated at the time, is just because BSF is going to stop, doesn't mean that schools are not going to be rebuilt, or that we are not going to get new buildings.

"That is not the case. They are not going to get rebuilt under BSF. They may well get rebuilt under a new buildings programme.

"It would have to be done in a way that's less bureaucratic. The hoops schools have been forced to jump through - Cardinal Hinsley was forced to rename, rebrand, have new uniforms and goodness knows how much that cost - I presume that was charged to the government."

Education Minister Michael Gove launched a comprehensive review of all capital investment in schools, early years, colleges and sixth forms on July 5.

Ms Teather said: "The problem was the Labour party was writing cheques before the election - absolutely and totally irresponsibly.

"It's like they went out with their store cards and maxed them out before election, and then when they ran out of money they transferred the balance to a new store card, and carried on using the old one.

"They must have known that what they were doing was unsustainable.

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