A LOT has already been said about the state of the Duchess’s Community High School, by councillors, Government ministers, teachers, this newspaper and even pupils.
We all know what is at stake and what must be done to improve the situation. No one is under any illusion that it will cost tens of millions of pounds to address.
The latest announcement from Westminster, about funding the repair or replacement of the most dilapidated school buildings first, is a welcome step forward after years of waiting. When Michael Gove visited the Duchess’s last December, he saw with his own eyes just how bad the conditions are. He seemed genuinely sympathetic – and he pledged to do something about it.
Well, here is the opportunity. What it requires now, however, is decisive action, not further debate and navel-gazing.
Not least, Northumberland County Council must send a clear message of intent to Mr Gove directly, that it will support the Government in giving us fit and proper school premises. The acid test, however, will be whether the authority can fulfil its obligations should the Government ask for a financial contribution towards a new-build.
If it can’t, there will be justifiable outrage, given the council’s recent £42million list of capital ‘priorities’ – most of which are in the south of the county.
The dire standard of these school buildings has been neglected for too long. That must change.
We need action and we need it now.