£20 investment into schools ‘not enough’ say Wakefield Council and unions

w7675a914 Exterior of Castle Grove Infant School.
w7675a914 Exterior of Castle Grove Infant School.

COUNCIL and union bosses say a £20m investment into schools is not enough to make them safe.

The cash will be spent on urgent maintenance work on school buildings, including roof and boiler repairs plus the removal of asbestos and bacteria control.

But it is just a third of the amount invested between 2008 and 2011, due to cuts in government funding, and despite some schools having to provide more school places in September.

It means playgrounds and security fencing work will not be started before 2015, according to a report set to go before Wakefield Council’s cabinet committee on Tuesday.

But nearly £6m has been allocated for problems that would threaten the closure of a school, such as roofing, boilers and electrical repairs.

Coun Olivia Rowley, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The funding may have gone but the problems we hoped it would address have remained and the £20m will go only a small way to making sure our schools are safe and fit for purpose.

“The funding from government is a fraction of what we had expected under the previous government’s capital investment programme for schools, but despite the council’s tough financial challenges we are still investing in our school buildings.”

Castle Grove Infants School, on Pinfold Lane, will have to meet an increasing demand for places in September.

The cabinet report said more places would be needed in the city centre and Ossett areas over the next few days.

National Union of Teachers divisional secretary Sally Kincaid said it was a bad time to be cutting funding.

She said: “Some of our schools are in desperate need of refurbishment and improvement. And at the same time we’ve got booms in terms of primary school pupils coming in.

“The government should be investing more money into education – £60m was not enough in the first place.”

It will cost the council around £400,000 to meet increasing demand for pupil places over the next academic year in the Kettlethorpe, Cathedral, City and Ossett pyramids.

An requirement of nearly £4m investment is expected for the 2013-14 academic year.