North Yorkshire will spend more money on improving the county’s schools this year after the county council’s executive approved the school’s capital programme.
Schools will have £51m over the next three years to invest in upgrading facilities such as science labs, design technology, art, music and drama spaces to support teaching and learning as well as improving school kitchens and maintaining the fabric of school buildings.
The cash, which comes through a number of government allocations for maintenance, improvements and new build, will also be invested in building and site improvements to support school mergers and make split-site campuses work better.
North Yorkshire’s capital allocation this year amounts to £13.2m - £1.8m more than last year. Including the money that is devolved directly to schools, this figure amount to just over £17m, with a similar indicative amount for the following two years.
The increased allocation has come about partly as a result of a national school property survey last year which revealed a high need for improvements to school buildings in North Yorkshire.
The county has one of the largest numbers nationally of small schools and old buildings and the government’s allocation reflects the level of need for the first time.
“Today’s approval for the capital programme means we can press ahead with many necessary improvements and repairs to the fabric of our school buildings,” said Pete Dwyer, corporate director for the children and young people’s service.
“North Yorkshire is responsible for some 350 schools, many of them small and with aging buildings. We have a rising backlog of building maintenance and this funding, even with the increased allocation, is not going to address all of that.
“However, it will go a long way to helping our schools continue to be fit for purpose to deliver a 21st century school curriculum.”
The authority has also received additional capital funding of nearly £600,000 to support the delivery of universal infant free school meals. This means North Yorkshire is able to refurbish a number of school kitchens in most need of renovation.
In a separate announcement, the council was also allocated a further £1m for the provision of additional school places in 2017/18 supporting an allocation of £40m announced last year. A programme of school expansions was agreed by councillors in September.