'Worst sports hall I've ever seen': MP calls for more funding for school

Marcus Rashford's face now looks out from the admin building at Highgate Wood School

Marcus Rashford mural on Highgate Wood School's admin building. - Credit: Highgate Wood School

Highgate Wood School's sports facilities have been described as "Dickensian" and its toilets "prison-like" in a House of Commons debate.

Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green Catherine West spoke at a School Rebuilding Programme debate, calling for more funding for schools which have taken on extra pupils.

She said: "The current facilities in the sports hall at Highgate Wood School are completely unacceptable. I have never seen a worse set of facilities for the basic provision of sport."

"''Dickensian' is the only word I could use to describe the prison-like toilets and changing room facilities and the serious problem with water ingress and subsidence. The appalling changing and toilet areas can be very off-putting for girls in particular."

She said that Highgate Wood, rated "good" by Ofsted, is a community school with a "big heart" that currently has a number of bulge classes. 

Each year group has 270 students – more than the 240 students that the school is built for. It takes children with a range of special educational needs. 

The Conservative minister for further and higher education Michelle Donelan said: "We are trying to prioritise the state, standard and condition of the school, so that this is done purely on need.

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"As the honourable member pointed out, taking additional pupils will produce further wear and tear, deteriorating the school estate. That would show in the evidence of how that school is performing against the standard.

"I am confident that that would have been picked up, and it can be looked at in detail once the nomination process has been published."

Patrick Cozier, headteacher at the school, said: “Highgate Wood is extremely proud of our students’ achievements in sport, both academically and competitively.

"We’re also very grateful to Catherine West for lobbying central government regarding the need to maintain and improve schools’ PE facilities. The students at Highgate Wood School would undoubtedly have a much-improved experience were that to be the case.”

A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “Haringey Council is investing millions of pounds on building improvement and energy efficiency works across the entire schools estate here in our borough.

“Along with other Haringey primary and secondary schools, any such works at Highgate Wood are subject to a continual, ongoing review which helps guide future capital investment priorities for us at the local authority.”