Calls to rebuild Wetherby school

Education leaders have said it is time for the Government to invest in rebuilding Wetherby High School.

Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 10:11 am
Wet Wetherby High School.(09040315f)

Coun Jonathan Pryor, executive member for learning, skills and employment at Leeds City Council, has written to Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson, asking for £13m to meet half the cost of repairs needed at the school.

“There is an urgent need to replace the curtain walling and windows at Wetherby High,” he said in the letter.

“However, the age, structure and condition necessitates the rebuild of the main block.

“We need around £13m to be able to do this as we can fund half the costs ourselves if the Secretary of State supports selling some of the land the school sits on.”

The Prime Minister announced earlier this week that a further £1billion would be made available to local authorities for 50 school building projects, which have yet to be announced.

Wetherby MP Alec Shelbrooke said he knew many people were pleased to hear the Prime Minister’s announcment.

“This comes after many meetings MPs have had with the Department of Education pressing the case for schools in our constituencies,” said Mr Shelbrooke, who added that he had been working on funding for the school.

“I continue to work with our excellent local councillors in Wetherby and we have already located over half the funds needed for school buildings at Wetherby High School.

“The Government has already given £65 million school place funding to Leeds City Council this year.

“Nevertheless, I welcome the Council’s renewed focus on Wetherby High School and look forward to their constructive input moving forward.”

Wetherby Ward Councillor and chairman of the Children and Families Scrutiny Board, Coun Alan Lamb added: “It is our long standing ambition to deliver a new secondary school for Wetherby.

“I welcome the additional investment announced by the Prime Minister in school buildings.

“We have been working proactively with Leeds City Council to develop a viable scheme and it’s now time for this to be delivered.”

Coun Pryor also asked the Education Secretary for £28m of funding for Royds High School and Benton Park School.

He said the authority’s backlog of repairs for schools totalled about £100m but receive £6.1m a year.

“Pupils in Leeds deserve to be taught in buildings that are fit for purpose,” he stated in his letter to Mr Williams.

“We remain in the position I highlighted a year ago of schools telling us they may need to close on health and safety grounds and move into modular units if

repairs are not undertaken. This is not acceptable.

“You will be aware of the pivotal role schools have played during the Covid-19 crisis, not just in terms of continuing to provide education for vulnerable children and the children of key workers as well as virtual education for all children and remaining open during school holidays, but also as community hubs, particularly important in the distribution of meals for vulnerable children.”

“I urge you to offer us more than understanding nods and promises to ‘look at’ the situation in Leeds.”