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Education boss: We've no money for a new school
6:10am Wednesday 30th October 2013 in News
ESSEX’S education boss has admitted there is not enough money available to build a new secondary school in north Colchester.
The Gazette revealed yesterday Essex County Council wants to open a secondary school in north Colchester in 2019.
Outline planning permission for 1,600 homes in the North Growth Area, which includes land for the school, was granted last month by Colchester Council, but the legal agreement did not include the £14.6million needed to build a school.
RayGooding, county councillor responsible for education, said he intended to work with Colchester Council to find a solution.
He said: “In terms of developer contributions, we do have quite a shortfall at the moment.
“We give a lot of advice and assistance to planning authorities in terms of what we’d expect developers to do to mitigate the impact of the things they’re doing.
“I’m not sure I’ve necessarily got the answer today, but it’s something that has to be sorted out.
“I think funding from Government is going to continue to be difficult in the foreseeable future, so we need to try to make sure anywhere we can get some cash from we do everything we can to get it.”
In the short term, the Gilberd School, in Highwoods, will expand by 150 spaces in 2015.
In 2017, Alderman Blaxill School, due to close temporarily next July, will reopen as a 600- space secondary site, expanding to 900 in 2021. Mr Gooding said he did not want to prejudice negotiations, but admitted the Stanway Federation, which will manage the site between 2014 and 2016, is a strong contender to run it.
Market Field Special School, in Elmstead Market, is to relocate for the 2014/15 school year while an £8.5million overhaul takes place at its site.
The timetable for the next decade follows years of turmoil during which former council leader Lord Hanningfield held a series of consultations aiming to shut down three secondary schools.
Mr Gooding said he wanted to reassure parents there would be spaces in good schools for their children when they turned 11.
He said: “I’ve seen the history of all this. It’s been fairly contentious and it’s been difficult to get a resolution.
“What is coming together now is a much better scheme, with some certainty, that allows parents to plan into the future.”
At the time of Lord Hanningfield’s consultations, several Colchester schools fell short of Government standards, with some not meeting minimum requirements of having at least 30 per cent of pupils achieving five good GCSEs.
Mr Gooding said there had been a lot of improvement.
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