Press release: Priority school building programme: 2 schools start rebuild work

Pupils at 2 Tyne and Wear schools have celebrated the start of work to create schools fit for the 21st century through the government’s flagship rebuilding programme.

Marden High School and John Spence Community High School are among 31 schools across the North East to be rebuilt through the £4.4 billion priority school building programme (PSBP), which is transforming some of the most run-down schools in the country.

At Marden High School, more than £14 million of construction will deliver a new three-storey block and a playing field in what the head teacher described as “a new era” for the school.

With £13 million of construction, pupils and teachers at John Spence Community High School will also benefit from a new three-storey building, along with a refurbished sports hall and arts block.

Schools Minister Lord Nash said:

Our investment in school buildings across the country is transforming the learning environment for tens of thousands of pupils and their teachers.

The start of construction at Marden High School and John Spence Community High School are key milestones for the priority school building programme in the north east of England.

Ensuring all children have access to the best possible schools and facilities is just one part of our commitment to help all young people reach their potential regardless of their background. These buildings will provide modern, fit-for-purpose schools for pupils for many years to come.

Alison Jackson, head teacher of Marden High School, said:

Although actual building work on our new school started several months ago, today’s turf cutting ceremony officially recognises the launch of a new era for Marden High School and its stakeholders.

Thanks to the hard work and determination of our governing body over the last few years, Marden High School students and staff will have a brand new, state-of-the-art building at their disposal from September 2016. There has never been a more exciting time in the school’s history and I am very proud to be a part of it.

Jim Stephenson, head teacher of John Spence Community High School, said:

I am delighted that John Spence Community High School has been included in the priority school building programme and that we are to have a new school building up and running on site by this time next year. The new building will provide a fantastic working environment for our students and staff, with state of the art specialist science and technology facilities and new general purpose classrooms.

In retaining and refurbishing our existing sports hall and our purpose-built arts block alongside the new build we will be providing our students and the local community with an exciting, modern learning environment which is fit for the 21st century. John Spence is already an outstanding school. We continue to go from strength to strength and see the investment of millions of pounds in a new school building as yet another step forward for the school.

John Roper, Project Director for Sir Robert McAlpine, said:

We are proud to be delivering these schools as part of the Education Funding Agency’s priority school building programme. They will provide exciting opportunities for the local community in terms of improved education facilities and employment prospects and we look forward to the successful delivery of the schemes.

Both projects are scheduled for completion next year.

Thanks to the PSBP, school buildings are being rebuilt faster and cheaper than those built under the previous school building initiative – Building Schools for the Future (BSF). Under the BSF it took 3 years for construction work to begin. This was slashed to 1 year for the PSBP, with projects costing around a third less.

A total of 537 schools will benefit from construction through the 2 phases of the PSBP.

Notes to editors

  1. The priority school building programme was established in 2011. A total of 260 schools will have their condition needs addressed through the first phase of the programme.
  2. Thanks to decisions which have been taken to improve efficiency and reduce waste, significant work on those projects is already underway. In November, 11 buildings are re-opening through PSBP thanks to almost £100 million of construction work, bringing the total number to have been re-opened through the first phase of PSBP to 60.
  3. Construction contracts have been signed for 182 schools and all other schools are at various stages of design development.
  4. In May 2014 the government announced a further £2 billion for the second phase of the programme. We published a list of the 277 schools to benefit from the second phase of the PSBP on 9 February 2015.

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