Exclusive: New fears over funds to repair crumbling schools

YORKSHIRE’S most dilapidated schools will cost more than £220m to replace as fears grow that some crumbling classrooms will miss out on Government funding for a second time.

Today is the deadline for councils to bid for a share of a new fund to rebuild schools in the worst condition in the country.

The Yorkshire Post can reveal that bids totalling £225m are being submitted to the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) from education authorities and schools across the region.

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Education bosses warn, however, that some schools where facilities are in desperate need of being replaced have not entered the scheme because they cannot afford the charges they would face under the new-build contracts.

The new buildings will be developed under a 27-year private finance initiative (PFI) deal with schools paying service charges for cleaning, management and maintenance. There are also concerns that some secondaries which had their hopes dashed when £55bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) fund was axed last year could miss out on rebuilding cash again.

Schools qualify for PSBP cash if their backlog of repairs costs around a third or more of what it would cost to replace them entirely.

Ministers will also consider bids for projects which provide extra places in areas facing a shortage.

Eleven Yorkshire councils have applied for the Department for Education funding including the six authorities – Bradford, Doncaster, Kirklees, Rotherham, North East Lincolnshire and Wakefield – which lost £1bn on projects which already had initial approval when BSF was scrapped last year.

The applications cover plans to rebuild or expand more than 40 schools across Yorkshire. Nationally between 100 and 300 are expected to be given the go ahead.

Bradford Council’s executive member for education Coun Ralph Berry said it would be a blow if schools which missed out on BSF cash last year had their hopes dashed again.

Coun Berry added: “We have eight primary schools where the buildings need replacing who have looked at it and decided not to apply because of the service charges they would face.

“We have one school which is crumbling, you can touch the brickwork and it comes away in your hand and they have decided that the contract would be so expensive they couldn’t deliver the same curriculum. “

The Yorkshire Post understands this school is prepared to miss out on more than £13m funding for a new building.

Bradford’s bid includes plans to create two new secondary schools in a city where 40,000 extra places will be needed by 2020.

The council is also bidding for work which could cost £50m to replace four secondaries.

Calderdale Council’s bid for more than £24m is for three schools: Todmorden High, Calder High and Moorside Primary which the authority says are all in need of urgent improvement.

Todmorden High has previously been forced to cope with an evacuation after a gas leak, water being cut off after a boiler failure and a power cut in the space of a week.

Hull Council has bid for £25m to replace 12 primary schools while Kirklees Council’s application for around £40m includes plans to create a new primary school to serve the Crosland Moor area and provide more space at four schools including Batley Grammar – which converted from the private sector to become Yorkshire’s first free school this year.

A decision on which schools will be rebuilt will be made by the DfE in December.