The Government’s announcement that the flagship Building Schools for the Future programme is to be massively scaled down has seriously affected plans to substantially refurbish or rebuild a number of co-operative schools, including Lipson Community College in Plymouth, whose big band thrilled delegates at this year’s Co-operatives 2010 weekend. Amongst the other schools reeling from the setback are Fulston Manor in Kent and Castle Manor in Haverhill, two of the Business & Enterprise Colleges sponsored by the Co-operative Group that pioneered the development of the network of co-operative schools.
A flagship new build co-operative trust school in Wigan, which would have replaced two existing schools, has also been stopped, but there is even more uncertainty over its future as the local authority is adamant that it fulfilled the criteria for its BSF programme to proceed.
Julie Thorpe, Schools and Youth Programmes Manager at the Co-operative College said: “We share with the schools their deep disappointment that the plans for the substantial refurbishment or replacement builds of what in so many cases are dreadfully rundown buildings have been stopped. If we are serious as a country in putting education at the heart of strengthening people’s employment prospects and economic well being, then they deserve decent learning facilities. Unless you are engaged on a regular basis with schools it is difficult to explain to people just how run down many schools are due to the chronic lack of capital investment in the past.”
Other schools within the network proposals for refurbishment are unaffected, due to the advanced stage they were at, and the two co-operative trust schools in Telford are relieved that their new builds are to go ahead.