Schools for the future funding confirmed

THREE more schools in the Fenland area will soon be benefiting from major investment after their funding was confirmed under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

Cromwell Community College in Chatteris, Meadowgate Special School in Wisbech and Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey, will receive funding totalling £28m.

This investment – by the Department for Education (DfE) - will be used to modernise the existing accommodation as well as providing new facilities at each of the three schools.

Six schools in Fenland were due to be modernised under BSF – a programme to rebuild or refurbish every secondary school in England - before the programme was cancelled by the Coalition Government in July.

Many BSF projects across the country were stopped at that point although a commitment was made to continue to fund the Fenland projects. However, the precise level of funding has not been confirmed until now.

Over the last month Cambridgeshire County Council has been working with the schools and private sector partners to identify a package of savings as part of a deal to secure the funding from the DfE.

The funding which will now be provided for these schemes represents a reduction of around 20% of what was originally expected under the BSF programme. However, the scale of the reduction is much less than the 40% cut which had been feared a few weeks ago.

Funding for the last of the BSF schools in Fenland, the Fenland Junction Pupil Referral Unit in March, is still to be confirmed.

Meanwhile construction is well under-way at the first two BSF schools in Fenland - the Neale-Wade Community College in March and Thomas Clarkson Community College in Wisbech.

Phase 1 at the Neale-Wade, which will see a new hall, kitchen, dining area and new entrance is on schedule for completion by this summer.

Phase 2 will start later in the year, this will include the majority of new classrooms and refurbishment of the existing building. It should be completed by 2013.

Construction work at the Thomas Clarkson is also on schedule, the first phase should be completed by the end of 2011 and phase 2 - a new drama studio, sports hall and performance area should be finished by November 2012.