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Minister is tackled on Newquay's primary school pressures

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

Minister is tackled on Newquay's primary school pressures

Steven Gilbert MP

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NEWQUAY'S MP has called on the Schools Minister to help three Newquay primary schools tackle increasing demand for places in their reception classes.

Stephen Gilbert spoke to David Laws MP in response to an announcement in October that funding promised by the Government to ease Cornwall's lack of school places was to be cut by £11 million.

St Columb Minor Academy, The Bishops' School and Indian Queens School are three of those in line for Targeted Basic Needs (TBN) cash to build more classrooms.

Cornwall Council announced it had secured £18.8 million for the expansion programme – but in October was told the amount had been slashed to £7.8 million.

Mr Gilbert said schools could make the money stretch by choosing their own contractors rather than using Cornwall Council's preferred company.

"Back in August I was thrilled that the Government announced funding for 840 new school places," he said. "We're in desperate need of the new classrooms and I'm glad some of our most successful schools will be expanding. Unfortunately, the delivery of these projects is faltering over who can deliver these places, when and at what cost.

"The new classrooms should be the best quality for the money they can possibly be – and who knows better how to spend the money than the schools themselves?

"That's why I've pressed the minister to look into the matter urgently and provide some guidance on how this situation can be resolved."

Mr Laws had agreed to consider the matter in detail, he said, and promised to tell him and the council soon whether the Department for Education objected to schools choosing their own contractors, if the council had agreed.

Cornwall Council said in a statement it was committed to delivering value-for-money school places and had commissioned feasibility studies for each of the eight TBN schemes to get a clearer picture of the actual build costs.

Following the cut in funding earlier this year, The Bishop's head teacher Jo Osborne said its plan to increase its annual intake from 30 to 45 pupils was "still viable" and that it was hoping to work with a local contractor if possible "to keep costs down".

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