No cash to fix rotting primary school

PUBLISHED: 13:00 10 June 2011

Ashcombe school, Weston. Emma Wheeter Parent governor with Pat Brown chairman of governors.

Ashcombe school, Weston. Emma Wheeter Parent governor with Pat Brown chairman of governors.

Archant

CHILDREN at a Weston school are being taught in crumbling, rotting buildings with asbestos ceilings, ‘ancient’ electrics and gaping holes.

Parents and governors have joined forces this week to question the state of Ashcombe Primary School, where temporary buildings are 40 years old - 16 years past their intended life span.

They say maintaining the classrooms is like placing a ‘sticking plaster’ over the catalogue of problems.

Children are taking lessons in buildings where water is leaking from skylights and floors are subsiding and the entrance steps to one of the buildings even collapsed this week.

The school has a problem with badgers that have burrowed underneath the classrooms and, because the buildings are so dilapidated, they cannot stand up to the damage the animals are causing.

Governors insist the buildings do not pose a danger to children, but electrics are so old they are becoming overloaded and the school experiences frequent power cuts.

This week headteacher Peter Turner wrote to parents to explain ‘significant’ long-term issues with some of the buildings.

He says the school hall is too small, the electrical wiring is inappropriate for a modern school with numerous computers and other equipment.

Mr Turner added: “None of these issues pose a risk to children on a daily basis. However, the governors and I believe your children deserve better.”

One parent governor says that with ancient electrics, asbestos ceilings and ‘extensive wood rot’, the buildings are deteriorating each week.

Another parent said: “This is a well-run school and the children are very happy, but the building needs to reflect that.

“We definitely need a new hall and a whole new set of classrooms.

“We need it modernising and brought up to modern standards.”

The annual budget for the school’s capital projects was £44,000 in 2010/11 but this year the Government grant has been cut to just £8,000.

Secretary of Ashcombe Friends Association, Cathy Constable, said: “It is unfair that other places get new schools and this is quite desperate.”

Pat Brown, chair of governors, added: “We have managed this site so well in recent years, which is why it has been used for so long. It is not a neglected building but the maintenance we have used is like putting a sticking plaster on it.”

North Somerset Council says it is working with the school to ensure it can continue to provide an acceptable learning environment while longer term solutions are explored.

Leader Nigel Ashton added: “Regrettably the Government’s national capital funding review has prevented the council from implementing longer term solutions.

“Once funding allocations for the future are known the council will work with Ashcombe and other schools to secure the best solutions for the future.”

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