Camden schools lose out as building plans are scrapped

Charlotte Newton A multi-million pound building project to transform Camden s secondary schools has been scrapped by the government - and plans for the new UCL Academy are up for discussion . Headteachers at Camden s secondary schools have been left reel

Charlotte Newton

A multi-million pound building project to transform Camden's secondary schools has been scrapped by the government - and plans for the new UCL Academy are "up for discussion".

Headteachers at Camden's secondary schools have been left reeling by the news that plans to refurbish buildings and upgrade IT facilities have been axed by the new Lib Dem-Tory coalition.

The government has announced that plans for the new UCL sponsored Academy in Swiss Cottage are up for discussion as are plans to refurbish South Camden Community College.

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But every other Camden secondary school has lost out in the scheme to refurbish their schools.

Andrew Baisley, Camden NUT branch secretary said: "The government have cut almost all of Camden's BSF programme and what remains is for 'discussion', this presumably means that even these modest plans will be scaled back further. There is an enormous need for Camden's secondary and special schools to be modernised.

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"It is particularly outrageous that Maria Fidelis has had its rebuild cancelled. The school is in a poor state on two sites separated by more than half a mile. The school has been waiting to be rebuilt for decades.

"This adds to my concern that the significant progress made in education over the last decade will be put into reverse. These cuts come hard on the heels of the government's drive to privatise schools through the massive expansion in the number of academies and the creation of "free schools". Education needs stability and investment to succeed, instead we have cuts and uncertainty."

The first phase of Camden's �250million BSF programme, starting in September, was meant to see the creation of the new UCL sponsored academy in Swiss Cottage and the expansion of South Camden Community School.

The second phase, which has now been scrapped, would have seen money pumped into Acland Burghley, William Ellis, Parliament Hill, Maria Fidelis and Hampstead schools.

The third phase, which was planned for January 2012, would have led to upgrades to Camden School for Girls and La Sainte Union.

The scheme involved providing new or redesigned school buildings and computer equipment and it aimed to increase secondary places in the borough.

But Michael Gove, the school's secretary, announced yesterday that the government was reversing plans to refurbish 719 secondary schools across the country in a bid to halt Labour's Building School's For the Future programme.

He said the scheme had been beset by overspends, delays and red tape and that it would be irresponsible to carry on with the programme in light of the current economic climate.

For the full story see the Ham&High on Thursday.

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