Rotting schools need millions to repair

MILLIONS of pounds need to be spent on schools in North Somerset to make sure they are safe and suitable for pupils to learn in

MILLIONS of pounds need to be spent on schools in North Somerset to make sure they are safe and suitable for pupils to learn in.Leaking ceilings and rotting classrooms are becoming increasingly common in the district's schools and a report by expert building surveyors has revealed just how bad the problems are.More than 60 per cent of the buildings at Priory Community School in Worle and nearly half the classrooms at Churchill Community School have been deemed 'unsuitable'.Nearly £1.5million needs to be spent on Churchill to put its classrooms in a decent condition for students to learn in. Around £600,000 needs to be spent at Priory.Some temporary classrooms have had to be shut down because they are simply too dangerous to use.The true extent of the problem was revealed when surveyors were called in to help council officers decide which school was best suited for a huge rebuilding project to be funded by the Government.In their report they said many classrooms were 'unsuitable' for the lessons being held in them.Nailsea School was chosen for the huge one-off project, as 76 per cent of its buildings were deemed unsuitable. The surveyors also picked out Backwell school as needing nearly £1million spent on it and Clevedon school needing more than £2million.North Somerset Council says it is fighting to get cash from the Government and plans to spend tens of millions of pounds in improvements over the next few years.Councillor Peter Kehoe, who is responsible for education, said the authority has had to struggle with massive under-funding for school projects in past years.He said: "The quality and suitability of the buildings means teachers have to work harder to get results because the buildings are not helping them."If you go round the schools today you will find ceilings stained from where they have been leaking, you will find buckets in the corners of the rooms to collect the rainwater, you'll see window frames rotting."We have had to take some classrooms out of commission because they are unsafe."However, I continue to be amazed at the ability of headteachers to cope in these conditions they find themselves in."We simply cannot have grotty electrics next to dripping taps because it is not safe."Ever since 2002 we have been working well with the Department for Education and Skills and have been badgering it to get funding."The better we spend the money the more we get, and we are seeing the benefits of that."If we can make a success of the millions we have been given to completely rebuild Nailsea School then it likely we will get more in the future.