Schools praise plan for £1bn of investment

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health & Education Editor

THE Chancellor’s announcement that he is releasing £1bn for investment in good schools was welcomed by headteachers and principals across the region.

Few details were available yesterday, but the money will also pay for 100 free schools and academies.

The statement also included £270m for further education colleges.

Many schools missed out on funding when the Government scrapped the Labour’s Building Schools for the Future Programme in 2010.

Instead, schools were invited to apply to a drastically scaled-down school building programme, which also involved raising private finance.

One of the headteachers who lost out last time, Dean Judson, who runs the 660- pupil Hurworth School, near Darlington, said: “Hopefully we are near the head of the queue this time.”

Since becoming an academy in April last year, Hurworth School has attracted more than £100,000 of investment in its own right, but Mr Judson said that was nowhere near the amount needed.

He said: “As part of the old programme, we were told that a new school would be better than a refurbishment, and that is what we need.”

He said that while the curriculum has changed massively, the school still had to live with an outdated 1950s design.

He added: “We have a lot of flat roofs and we have been having to renew them every ten years or so.”

Simon Kennedy, North-East organiser for the NASUWT union, said: “There are plenty of schools in the region which need urgent investment in their fabric, which will enable them to increase the delivery of good education for the kids, but we do not need any free schools. We need to invest in the existing schools.”

Vince Allen, principal regional officer of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The investment in schools is welcome, but it is a rather late conversion back to where were in the first place.” He said allocations to schools should be based on need.

Mr Osborne also announced plans to link teachers’ pay to their performance in the classroom.

From September next year, school staff will no longer receive automatic pay rises each year. Instead, schools will be allowed to decide on salaries for teachers, who will be given annual appraisals.

However, there will still be a minimum and maximum amount that a teacher can be paid. The proposals are a move away from national pay structures.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “It will be bad for teachers and bad for children. Individualised pay will lead to unfairness and injustice.”

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