Two schools in Newcastle and 1 in Durham hosted official turf cutting ceremonies today (Monday 1 June) to mark the start of construction work to replace school buildings in need of repair.
The 3 schools are among 31 across the north-east which will be rebuilt or refurbished under the first phase of the government’s priority school building programme (PSBP) - a £2.4 billion initiative to address the needs of 260 of the schools in England in the worst condition. They are:
Prudhoe High School, Newcastle, which will benefit from a new building, including a 4-court community sports hall, for 883 pupils as a result of its £14.6 million building project
Whitehouse Primary School in North Tyneside, Newcastle, which will receive a new building for 210 pupils through its £3.1 million building project
St Joseph RCVA Primary School in Coundon, Durham, which will receive a new building for 155 pupils, through its £2.1 million building project
Schools Minister Lord Nash said:
As part of our long-term economic plan we are investing in school buildings across the country, so we can transform the learning environment for tens of thousands of pupils and their teachers while delivering value for money for the taxpayer.
The start of construction work at Prudhoe High School, Whitehouse Primary School and St Joseph RCVA Primary School marks a key milestone for the Priority School Building Programme in Durham and Newcastle.
As part of this government’s commitment to social justice, we want all children, no matter what their background or where they live, to have access to the best possible schools and to learn in an environment that gives them the knowledge and skills to succeed in modern Britain. These new school buildings will provide modern, fit-for-purpose facilities for pupils and staff for many years to come.
Students and school staff were joined by council dignitaries, representatives from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine, at each of today’s ceremonies.
At Prudhoe High School and Whitehouse Primary School new 2-storey school buildings will be built, while the existing buildings will be demolished to make way for playing fields. Work is due for completion at Prudhoe High School by early 2017 and at Whitehouse Primary School by autumn 2016.
At St Joseph RCVA Primary School, a new, single-storey school building will be built, and the existing building will be demolished to make way for playing fields. Work is due for completion by summer 2016.
Thanks to the PSBP, school buildings are being rebuilt faster and cheaper than those built under the previous school building initiative - building schools for the future (BSF). Under the BSF it took 3 years for construction work to begin. This was slashed to 1 year for the PSBP, with projects costing around a third less.
On 9 February 2015 the government announced details of the second phase of the PSBP, worth around £2 billion, which will see a further 277 school buildings rebuilt or refurbished, bringing the total to 537 schools to benefit over the life of the programme.
Notes to editors
- The priority school building programme was established in 2011 to address the needs of those schools in the worst condition across the country.
- The list of 261 successful schools under the first phase of the programme was announced in May 2012. This has since been revised to 260 school projects, after St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School in Kent was closed due to insufficient pupil demand in the local area.
- Thanks to decisions which have been taken to improve efficiency and reduce waste in central school building programmes, significant work on those projects is already underway. As of 27 April 2015, 24 school buildings are already open, 90 are under construction and the remaining projects are all in the design or planning stages.
- In May 2014 the government announced a further £2 billion for the second phase of the programme. A list of the 277 schools to benefit from the second phase of the PSBP was published on 9 February 2015.