‘Tory priorities on schools are all wrong’

Ronnie Campbell, MP for Blyth Valley. Picture by John Tuttiett
Ronnie Campbell, MP for Blyth Valley. Picture by John Tuttiett

The National Audit Office reckons that crumbling schools in Northumberland need £2,100 per pupil to bring them up to standard.

That’s partly because much of the school estate is more than 40 years old, with 60 per cent built before 1976, but also because of the Tory spending squeeze and their twisted priorities.

Elsewhere across the North East, bringing schools in Newcastle to a satisfactory condition would cost £1,742 per pupil, while in North Tyneside the cost would be £1,492 per pupil and in County Durham it would be £1,334 per pupil. Common defects include problems with electrics, external walls, windows and doors, plus dodgy plumbing and broken heating.

Our children are too often taught in disgraceful conditions and our teachers have to do their best with shoddy materials. Yet where are the priorities of Theresa May and her Tory Government? With bringing back grammars and pouring money into ‘flagship’ free schools, that’s where.

The Conservative Government is throwing fortunes at its pet programmes, including spending up to £30million just to buy sites on which to build a free school. Yet another example of throwing money at the privileged elite at the expense of poor and disadvantaged areas.

Grammar schools need a lot of money to set up and this is a case of robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul. Another trick of the financial hand to swap monies from one place to another for Tory ego projects.

And there is a danger that the repairs will simply never happen, because the Department for Education has devolved responsibility to local bodies. The National Audit Office said: “The Department does not currently know with certainty how the condition of the estate is changing over time.”

It is a disgrace that kids in the North East have so many school buildings in urgent need of improvement. Why should children in the North East be forced into sub-standard and inadequate schools?

Related story: Northumberland school buildings need £2k per pupil to bring them up to scratch