County set to invest in schools despite cutbacks

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A MULTI-MILLION pound investment has been unveiled for North Yorkshire’s schools despite swingeing cutbacks in funding from the Government.

Education chiefs have admitted that they are having to target available cash “very carefully” amid dramatic reductions in the amount of funding from Westminster. The council’s £18.7m capital funding from the Department for Education is almost 20 per cent down on last year, creating intense financial pressures.

However, the authority has unveiled plans to spend £15m to maintain and improve school buildings across the county. The council will also co-ordinate a separate programme of improvements at Voluntary Aided schools of almost £2m. And there will also be investment over the next two years to provide additional school places as a result of the increased birth rate.

The council’s new corporate director for the children and young people’s service, Pete Dwyer, said: “In North Yorkshire we are determined that children and young people have the highest standards of teaching and learning. Making sure that our school buildings remain fit for purpose is crucial to that endeavour. We have targeted the resources we do have to refurbish specialist teaching facilities and to ensure our school buildings remain safe, warm and weather-tight.”

The cash will be used to provide extra teaching space, and ensure school buildings are in a good state of repair to keep heating bills to a minimum, and carry out capital improvement programmes.

The work will include a £4m programme to bring specialist teaching accommodation at a number of schools up to modern curriculum standards. A total of 14 science laboratories will be renovated and there will be upgrading of other specialist accommodation such as design technology, food technology, art, drama and music facilities. And £4.5m will be invested in renovate roofs and windows and a further £2m will be used to replace 13 portable classroom units.