Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

School Needs More Than a New Building

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

School Needs More Than a New Building

Article excerpt

Byline: BEN O'CONNELL Local democracy reporter @benjaminoc

THE pledge of a PS15m investment in buildings at Berwick Academy is welcome, but the community has more immediate concerns about the school.

That was the feeling from residents at last week's meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council, where local authority bosses provided an update on the capital funding announced in the budget as well as efforts to support the Academy's improvement.

On the new buildings, Cath McEvoy-Carr, the council's executive director of children's services, said: "It's very early days for the PS15m capital spend as the money was only recently announced, but we have an event with the schools in April to start discussing what that might look like."

There's new in post always " Sue Aviston, the authority's head of school organisation and resources, explained that the council wanted to avoid the situation in Alnwick, where the new school was being constructed when a shift to a twotier structure took place and the building then had to be extended.

steady That's why it is expected to take around six months for all stakeholders, including the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), who is responsible for academies, to have the full discussions about what is needed. She said it was very difficult to give a date, but suggested they would be looking at 2022-23 for completion of the project. Asked whether the PS15m was enough, Mrs McEvoy-Carr replied: "The PS15m is a minimum and at this stage we don't know, because we need to scope out some options."

She added that the outcome may be a new build, but it could also be changes or additions to some of the existing buildings. Asked about the council (NCC) spending money on an academy, which is by definition outside of localauthority control, Ms Aviston said: "The councillors are very clear that the children of Northumberland are the children of Northumberland. …

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