A HEADTEACHER has called on the Education Secretary and local authority to take urgent steps to rebuild his ageing and deteriorating school.

Andy Byers, the head of Durham’s Framwellgate School, has written an open letter to Gavin Williamson and Durham County Council leader, Councillor Simon Henig, highlighting problems with flooding, severe overcrowding and health and safety issues.

The school had been earmarked to be rebuilt, but plans were axed in 2010 following the coalition Government cuts to the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

In his letter, My Byers wrote: “Ten years is far too long to wait for a new building, although I note the council has prioritised its own offices over rebuilding schools.

“Schools like mine will be unable to retain leaders, teachers and students if these issues are not addressed soon. Working conditions for both staff and students are unacceptable.”

Speaking to The Northern Echo Mr Byers said, national and local politicians needed to work together to provide a plan and solutions.

He said: “We have 1,250 students has seven separate buildings, four of which were built in the 1960s - one of which was donated to us many years ago.

“When it rains the site floods, blocking access to some of the buildings and many classrooms are inaccessible.

“The buildings themselves are not suitable and have no disability access to upstairs floors.

“Most of the buildings are made out of prefabricated material and that material is past its shelf-life, so we have cladding and bits falling off.

“Narrow stairwells, which are used in every change of lesson and have to cope with 240 students walking in opposite directions.

“Our science prep room is the size of two toilets. I know this because it was the size of one toilet until we knocked through to another. It serves science labs covering three floors and technicians have to carry chemicals up and down stairs.

“The main hall doubles as a dining area and exam room, while staff do not have enough office space.”

He added: “The school is doing well. Standard are rising we have increased school by 30 per cent so the school is doing well. The divide between the haves and have nots is widening.

John Pearce, Durham County Council’s corporate director of children and young people’s services, said: “We look at all cases where capital investment is required and we continue to lobby for an adequate level of school funding to address the needs of the Education Estate. Our cabinet member for children and young people’s services has written to the Education Secretary to outline the scale of the problem here in Durham and the insufficiency of national funding.

“Over the last ten years, Durham County Council has only received £19.7 million in Basic Need funding to enable us to provide some of the additional school places required. This is far lower than other areas with similar sized school estates, County Durham has 266 schools. It has also been confirmed that we will not receive any Basic Need funding for 2020/21.

“Durham County Council has invested £16.6m from its capital programme over this period to try and mitigate the shortfall in national funding. However a new build secondary school costs approximately £25-30m so national funding is urgently required to resolve the ongoing challenge of renewing our school estate.

“National funding for replacement school buildings has only been made available through a bidding process to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) in relation to both the Priority School Building Programmes. The council has made a number of successful bids for both new build schools and block replacement projects and we will continue to bid for funding as and when new initiatives are released. However, this does not address the scale of the new buildings required.

“In the case of Academy schools such as Framwellgate School, funding for building condition related works comes directly from the ESFA and not from the council.

“However, again government funds are limited and the ESFA will prioritise funding depending upon the bids received by Academy Trusts nationally.”