Conservative MP takes to the roof of Calderdale school to protest DfE decision not to fund repairs

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A CONSERVATIVE MP has staged a rooftop protest against a Government decision not to include two schools in his constituency in its latest rebuilding programme for those in the worst condition.

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker “hit the roof” at Todmorden High this morning after both this school and Calder High, in Mytholmroyd, were not included in the Priority Schools Building Programme announced on Monday.

Craig Whittaker MP

Craig Whittaker MP

Around £150m was awarded to schools in Yorkshire from an overall £2 billion funding announcement from the Department for Education.

The PSBP fund is aimed at rebuilding schools in the worst condition. It was launched by the coalition after it axed Building Schools for the Future programme.

Both Todmorden High and Calder High have missed out on funding through both schemes under the past two governments.

However the Department for Education said that those schools which did miss out on the second wave of PSBP funding can be confident that their needs will be met through a £4bn capital funding announcement which will cover the next three years.

Mr Whittaker said both schools have been considered urgent cases in Calderdale “for more than a decade.”

He added: : “I am bitterly disappointed that Todmorden and Calder High have not been included within the PSBP. I have lobbied various Government ministers for their inclusion in the programme for many years and this decision is a bitter pill to swallow. As part of the Education Select Committee I have visited hundreds of different schools across the country and I can honestly say that I have not seen a school which is more in need of repair than Todmorden High.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “As part of our long term economic plan, we have continued to invest in school buildings. Under this Government £18bn has been invested in the school estate, on top of the new funding being announced today. Alongside announcing the schools to be included in PSBP2, we are also announcing school condition allocations for the next three years. These allocations reflect the condition of school buildings; meaning those schools in who missed out on PSBP2 can be confident their needs will be reflected in the funding we make available to their local authority, trust or VA partnership.”

In the past Todmorden High had 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.

The previous head teacher Helen Plaice had told The Yorkshire Post the school used to have “what we would call wobbly Wednesdays as something always seemed to go wrong”.

The current head teacher Andrew Whitaker said the school was “bitterly disappointed” not to have been included in the latest wave of PSBP funding.

However he added. “Despite this news, we are fully committed to ensuring that we become an outstanding school. We do not allow the state of our buildings to side-line us from this ultimate goal.

“Obviously our buildings are in desperate need of replacement as we try to deliver a high quality and innovative 21st century curriculum with 1970’s facilities. It is an absolute injustice that our exceptional student body do not have the very best environment in which to learn. We therefore remain hopeful that with the support of key decision makers within the Department for Education and the coalition Government that yesterday’s decision can be reconsidered.”

The National Union of Teacher’s Calderdale branch secretary Sue McMahon criticised the Calder Valley MP for staging this morning’s protest.

She accused of him of using the school to “make political capital” after failing to secure funding for schools in his constituency.